The Devil in the Marshalsea [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Antonia Hodgson’s London of 1727 offers that rare achievement in historical fiction: a time and place suspensefully different from our own, yet real . . . A damn’d good read." —Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian

London, 1727. Tom Hawkins refuses to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a country parson. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there’s...
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The Devil in the Marshalsea

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Overview

"Antonia Hodgson’s London of 1727 offers that rare achievement in historical fiction: a time and place suspensefully different from our own, yet real . . . A damn’d good read." —Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian

London, 1727. Tom Hawkins refuses to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a country parson. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there’s honor there too, and Tom won’t pull family strings to get himself out of debt—not even when faced with London’s notorious debtors’ prison.

The Marshalsea Gaol is a world of its own, with simple rules: Those with family or friends who can lend them a little money may survive in relative comfort. Those with none will starve in squalor and disease. And those who try to escape will suffer a gruesome fate at the hands of its ruthless governor and his cronies. The trouble is, Tom has never been good at following rules, even simple ones. And the recent grisly murder of a debtor, Captain Roberts, has brought further terror to the gaol. While the captain's beautiful widow cries for justice, the finger of suspicion points only one way: do the sly, enigmatic figure of Samuel Fleet.

Some call Fleet a devil, a man to avoid at all costs. But Tom Hawkins is sharing his cell. Soon Tom’s choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder—or be the next to die.

A dazzling evocation of a startlingly modern era, The Devil in the Marshalsea is a thrilling debut novel full of intrigue and suspense.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
04/15/2014
The ne'er-do-well son of a country parson is thrown into the alternative world that is the debtors' prison of London in 1727. Owned by a noble, run by an unlikeable bastard, and inhabited by the unfortunate as well as the conniving, the Marshalsea Gaol is a festering pot of deception, treachery, and brutality. When a man of means is murdered inside the institution, everyone seems to have an interest in finding the killer, as well as a motive for the crime. New arrival Tom Hawkins not only needs to pay off his debts, he must find out who killed the man who slept in his bed two days before. The scenes are Hogarthian and the pace is Pattersonian. Debut author Hodgson, who is also the editor in chief of Little, Brown UK, has a gift for action and colorful characters, using the infamous prison as the main stage and real people as supporting actors. She manages to keep the reader guessing as to who might be the murderer and when (and whom) he might strike next. VERDICT History and mystery fans will both enjoy the roller-coaster twists and turns of this atmospheric historical thriller.—W. Keith McCoy, Somerset Cty. Lib. Syst., Bridgewater, NJ
Publishers Weekly
★ 04/14/2014
Hodgson, the editor-in-chief of Little, Brown U.K., conjures up scenes of Dickensian squalor and marries them to a crackerjack plot, in her impressive first novel, set in 1727. Tom Hawkins, the 25-year-old wastrel son of an English minister, has the misfortune to land in London’s hellish debtors’ prison, the Marshalsea Gaol. With his life and sanity at stake, Hawkins seizes a possibility for a reprieve. Shortly before his entry to the Marshalsea, the hanging death of another prisoner, Capt. John Roberts, was ruled a suicide. Roberts’s widow believes otherwise, and with reports of the captain’s ghost haunting the jail, the authorities hope that Hawkins will conduct an independent investigation that they can use to calm the inmates. 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. Agent: Clare Conville, Conville & Walsh Literary Agency (U.K.). (June)
From the Publisher
"[Hodson] 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." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-01
In 1727, a murder occurs in the Marshalsea debtors prison in London, and a recently incarcerated prisoner is promised his freedom if he finds the killer. This isn't Dickens' Marshalsea from Little Dorrit but an earlier structure, even more loathsome and inhabited by a cast of repellent characters, a number of whom could qualify as the "devil" of the title. Tom Hawkins meets every one of them as he tries to figure out who killed Capt. Roberts a few months earlier. As the book opens, Hawkins is on top of the world, for he's won enough at gambling to pay off some of his creditors; but that same evening, he's set upon, robbed and taken to the Marshalsea. There, he meets a cross section of the English classes and finds a strictly capitalist system—he can have pretty much anything he wants as long as he's able to pay. Of course, the irony is he's imprisoned for debt and doesn't have a lot of spending money. He's immediately taken under the wing of Samuel Fleet, a suspected murderer and translator of French erotica; and he's soon antagonized the aptly named Joseph Cross and the egregious William Acton, two of the jailers. Acton is a vicious sadist who delights in beating a boy who tried to escape, much to the reader's revulsion. The plot develops almost as many intricate turns as there are passages in the Marshalsea as Hawkins crosses the paths of men and women, high and low, who might know something about the death of Capt. Roberts—and about Roberts' ghost, which now seems to be haunting the prison. Hodgson's plotting is clever, perhaps even overly intricate, and the local color hair-raising.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544176645
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/10/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 99,741
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet 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.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 25, 2014

    This was such a fantastic read! Antonia Hodgson really makes a n

    This was such a fantastic read! Antonia Hodgson really makes a name for herself in “The Devil in the Marshalsea”. The writing if fantastic. The story intertwines very smoothly and the plot is fantastic! The very first pages of the story are attention grabbing, I wanted to finish this book in one sitting but that would have been impossible. The Marshalsea goal was really an interesting place… I felt the same when I visited Alcatraz… you know it’s (was) a terrible place but you can’t help but be fascinated with all the stories that surround it. The same occurred with the Marshalsea prison. It was really a terrible place but so fascinating. The main character Tom Hawkins is a typical anti-hero. He is wild and refuses to follow the rules of society. When Tom finds himself in this prison many different elements of his character begin to show. Although at the beginning it was easy to write him off as a man of no character or principal. The mystery surrounding the killer was also fantastic. The writing was very subtle and so were the clues. Our unconventional hero must find out who the killer is if he has any hope or claiming his freedom. This was a highly enjoyable novel and incredibly well written!

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