Thrilling new historical fiction starring a scoundrel with a heart of gold and set in the darkest debtors’ prison in Georgian London, where people fall dead as quickly as they fall in love and no one is as they seem.
It’s 1727. Tom Hawkins is damned if he’s going to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a country parson. Not for him a quiet life of prayer and propriety. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there’s a sense of honor there too, and Tom won’t pull family strings to get himself out of debt—not even when faced with the appalling horrors of London’s notorious debtors’ prison: The Marshalsea Gaol.
Within moments of his arrival in the Marshalsea, Hawkins learns there’s a murderer on the loose, a ghost is haunting the gaol, and that he’ll have to scrounge up the money to pay for his food, bed, and drink. He’s quick to accept an offer of free room and board from the mysterious Samuel Fleet—only to find out just hours later that it was Fleet’s last roommate who turned up dead. Tom’s choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder—or be the next to die.
Praise for The Devil in the Marshalsea
“Hodgson…conjures up scenes of Dickensian squalor and marries them to a crackerjack plot, in her impressive first novel…Hodgson makes the stench, as well as the despair, almost palpable, besides expertly dropping fair clues. Fans of Iain Pears and Charles Palliser will hope for a sequel.” –Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)
“The plot develops almost as many intricate turns as there are passages in the Marshalsea…Hodgson’s plotting is clever…the local color hair-raising.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Satisfyingly twisty debut thriller…so well detailed that one can almost smell the corruption, and the irrepressibly roguish Tom makes a winning hero.” —Booklist
“Historical fiction just doesn’t get any better than this. A riveting, fast-paced story…Magnificent!” —Jeffery Deaver, author of the bestselling The Kill Room and Edge
“Antonia Hodgson’s London of 1727 offers that rare achievement in historical fiction: a time and place suspensefully different from our own, yet real. The Devil in the Marshalsea reminds us at every turn that we ourselves may not have evolved far from its world of debtors and creditors, crime and generosity, appetite and pathos. A damn’d good read.” —Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves
“A wonderfully convincing picture of the seamier side of 18th-century life. The narrative whips along. Antonia Hodgson has a real feel for how people thought and spoke at the time—and, God knows, that’s a rare talent.” —Andrew Taylor, author of An Unpardonable Crime and The Four Last Things
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About the Author
Antonia Hodgson is the editor in chief of Little, Brown UK. She lives in London and can see the last fragments of the old city wall from her living room. The Devil in the Marshalsea is her first novel.
For more information please visit Antonia Hodgson’s website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Twitter.
Release Date: 10 June, 2014
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Review Written: 3 July, 2014
Prisons, like every other institution, have evolved over the years; growing in size and number, the conditions becoming slightly better or slightly worse depending on the case. The argument can be made, however, that the prisons of today are far better than those of yesteryear. Especially, the debtor's prison. It wasn't such a horrible place, if you could stay on the upper side or had things to bargain with for credit.
Tom Hawkins has found himself in a bit of trouble. Thanks to his gambling ways, living on a life of credit, and refusing to follow the rules, Tom finds himself in need of money to pay his way out of debt. The trouble is, once he's managed to gather half of it up trouble finds him yet again. Beaten, robbed, and left for dead, Tom Hawkins night seems to just be destined to land him straight in the Marshalsea, possibly one of the worst prisons of the time. If you can gain a little money you might live in comfort until your debt is repaid, if not, well starvation is the least of your worries. And with a murderer on the loose, no one is safe until the truth about another debtor comes out.
Hodgson's novel is fast-paced and engaging. A marvelous work of writing that kept me entertained for hours on end. It's highly researched, very much amusing (and I may have learned a new few curses thank you), and keeps the reader on their toes.
A definite item to be thrown on anyone's to read list.