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.
Tom Hawkins was once a man destined to follow in his father's footsteps and become a man of the cloth, that is, until he was disgraced on the day of his graduation by his own brother. Now, free to live life as he chooses, Tom gambles, drinks and chases after women. It is no surprise that he soon falls into debt and through a series of unfortunate events, finds himself being locked up in the infamous Marshalsea debtors prison. Upon his arrival, Tom finds out that he looks very similar to a man who was just murdered, a man whose bed he now sleeps in with a cell mate, Samuel Fleet, who might just be the murderer. Tom is now in the position to find the murderer or be killed himself.
The most interesting part of this story is that it takes place almost entirely within the walls of the Marshalsea gaol. The Marshalsea was a very real and very dangerous place to be, but within itself there was almost the feeling of a small community. Antonia Hodgson has done wonderful research into the setting, bringing this gaol to life in all of its brutality and intensiveness. Using real people as inspirations for many of the characters that worked and lived within the Marshalsea at the time created a rich historical atmosphere that I love to see in my historical fiction. Tom is a rich character, caring and intelligent, but otherwise content to let life take him for a ride, he is the perfect unintentional sleuth for the murdered Captain Roberts. Tom's crime-solving partner, and suspect, Samuel Fleet is a colorful and mysterious character himself, I never quite knew if he was trustworthy or not. The mystery, although only unfolding over Tom's stay of five days in the Marshalsea, is a little slow unfolding and Tom seems to spend almost as much time getting in and out of trouble as he does mystery-solving. However, near the end the pace picks up and the details of this intricately woven mystery come out, I found myself absorbed.
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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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.
The Devil in the Marshalsea Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, June 10
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, June 11
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, June 12
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, June 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, June 20
Interview at Reading the Past
Monday, June 23
Guest Post at Kinx’s Book Nook
Wednesday, June 25
Review & Giveaway at Book Nerd
Monday, June 30
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes
Tuesday, July 1
Review at Mina’s Bookshelf
Thursday, July 3
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Monday, July 7
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, July 8
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, July 9
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Friday, July 11
Review at Princess of Eboli
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection