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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2012
The Devil's Ribbon is a dark, page-turning mystery of epic proportions. It's written with such masterful authority that one questions if reading a work of fiction. Meredith's Victorian London is brought to life with all it's squalor and casual atrocities as viewed by the fabulously paired forensic duo Hatton and Roumande. I adore the sensitive Hatton, the genuine kindness of Roumande and their ever-evolving 'who's the teacher, who's the student?' relationship. Bring on the next book!!
As a quick aside, my daughter came home from school the other day after learning about the famine and I was able to answer her questions about the Irish cholera boats to North America with what I had gleaned from this book. Result!!
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on 14 October 2013
CSI: Smithfield returns with The Devil's Ribbon, the second mystery featuring forensics pioneer Professor Adolphus Hatton and his trusty [and iron-stomached] morgue assistant Albert Roumande. It's July1858 and the morgue at St. Bart's Hospital is still one of the least desirable medical postings available. Despite the strides that scientists like Professor Hatton have made within the field of forensic detection, the cadaver cutting business is still seen as the purview of social pariahs, blasphemers and other undesirable dinner party guests. The money's lousy as well, especially since Professor Hatton fell out of favour with the relatively well-paying police force.

That's not to say that business isn't booming. In the sweltering London summer disease stalks the filthy streets, leaving Professor Hatton with a morgue overflowing with cholera victims. Cholera is not the only peril facing the citizens of London though; civil unrest is also in the air and the perplexing murder of Gabriel McCarthy, a leading politician in the Irish Unionist movement, causes Inspector Grey to once more call upon the services of Hatton and Roumande.

The Devil's Ribbon is another finely crafted mystery from D.E. Meredith. The murder of Gabriel McCarthy is complex in itself but also leads Hatton and Roumande on a twisting path through the poverty and disease-riddled streets of London as they attempt to track down the murderer while stopping a band of would-be terrorists and quelling escalating violence. Although the dynamic forensic detecting duo are working with the police, their progress is often thwarted by the hot-headed Inspector Grey and his desire to find a guilty party (yes, anyone plausible will do) whatever the cost. Fortunately, Hatton and Roumande are able to rely on the very latest scientific breakthrough - the groundbreaking process of fingerprinting - to help them accurately identify the correct criminal. Meredith has obviously done a great deal of research into the process and development of forensics during this period and so both Hatton's method and deductions (when possible) ring true.

The situation of London itself is also accurately, sometimes nauseatingly, recreated. Meredith details the filth and degradation that the poor, many of them immigrants fleeing from famine in Ireland, faced daily in their ghettos while others were able to live comfortably by exploiting them. She works the political situation of the time as well as the popular feeling and superstitions that accompanied the social upheaval into the motivation for McCarthy's murder in a very convincing fashion. The reasons, both personal and political, behind McCarthy's death and the ensuing violence help to both flesh out the characters of the terrorists and increase the tension in the story as a whole.

It's not just murderers, terrorists and Inspector Grey that Hatton and Roumande have to contend with during the course of their investigation: further complications are added in the form of two new relationships. In Professor Hatton's case, he finds himself drawing close to Mrs McCarthy, a relationship that forces him to confront a tragedy from his past, while Roumande has to deal with his responsibilities as a mentor to new morgue assistant Patrice. It's amazing that they find time to tackle the cholera outbreak really. However, these insights into the more human elements of Hatton and Roumande are very welcome; they could easily have been portrayed as the kind of unfeeling scientists that people seem to expect them to be. Meredith has instead succeeded in creating two efficient yet relatable central characters.

The Devil's Ribbon is a thrilling mystery set in the haunting squalor of Victorian London. Professor Hatton and Albert Roumande are excellent detectives and their use of period forensic investigative tools is innovative and entertaining. This is an excellent instalment in the Hatton and Roumande series; hopefully the wait for the next book won't be too long.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2012
Read the first one and enjoyed it. This second one was good too. I wish I was able to give it a 5 star though. It's flaw lies in the fact that I found the characters a bit distant. Awaiting the third.
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on 12 April 2013
I read this a couple of weeks ago and it only took me a couple of days to finish, it was so good. Lovely balance of facts with story, which is very hard to do well. Inspector Grey - an is-he-or-isn't-he-a-villain character - is a marvellous creation. Monstrous yet empathetic at the same time. He just chews up the scenery whenever he appears. Nice twist at the end, too, which gives the book a whodunnit flavour even when you thought you knew what was going on all the way through. The depiction of Victorian London in this book feels utterly real, too. So what's not to like? You get to learn a little about the time while enjoying a tub-thumpingly-good read. I recommend this highly.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 March 2013
D.E. Meredith's Devoured (A Hatton and Roumande Mystery) was a fine introduction to Victorian forensic scientist Professor Adolphus Hatton and his assistant in the morgue Albert Roumande. This second novel, The Devil's Ribbon, however, is superb.

Set in the heart of hot, steamy and diseased London, Hatton and Roumande don't just have the sad choleric remains of the poor to deal with, they are also faced with a series of brutal murders. The victims are all very different, both poor and old, but Hatton and Roumande are pioneers of forensic science, including the latest technique of all - fingerprinting. Uniquely and originally, they have the method to put the pieces together. The intellectual detachment of science, though, is more of a goal than a reality - our two heroes are never far removed from the horrific reality of it all.

There are complications. The case tests Hatton's heart as much as his mind. Mrs McCarthy, the beautiful young widow of one of the victims, adds a sense of urgency to Hatton's efforts, reminding him of another time in his life while enriching our knowledge of this very likable scientist detective.

London in the mid 19th century had dangers quite apart from the regular outbreaks of cholera. The Irish nationalist movement was growing in vigour and violence, asserting itself among the factories and slums of London, largely due to the huge numbers of Irish refugees concentrated in the poorest parts of the city, the human aftermath of one of the great disasters of the century, the Irish Potato Famine. The repercussions of this tragedy and the potential, even likelihood, for further violence is never far from the surface of The Devil's Ribbon.

This is a deeply atmospheric novel, rich in historic detail. You can almost imagine yourself walking alongside Hatton and Roumande through London's poorest streets, or taking tea in the parlours of Highgate. The confident chemistry between the two scientists is offset by their suspicion of dandy Inspector Grey. This detective might be a lowly policeman but there is nothing humble or modest about him. Victorian forensic science mixes effectively with the harrowing historical accounts of Ireland and the violent unrest in London's streets. It is an interesting blend of science, history and poetry.

I must mention the book itself. Just like its predecessor Devoured, The Devil's Ribbon hardback is a thing of beauty. Quite apart from the stunning dust jacket, the cover beneath is equally striking. Appropriately there is a ribbon to mark your progress through the attractively scripted pages. I read The Devil's Ribbon in a single sitting. I was unable to put it down. Beautifully written and utterly compelling, the novel's characters linger in the mind, as does the world it evokes. A wonderful reading experience. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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on 20 April 2013
After I'd read and admired Devoured, the first in the series, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of The Devil's Ribbon from the author. Beautifully written, it feels as though D E Meredith actually lives alongside her characters, and her research is mind-boggling. The wait for number three has been far too long!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2013
My first thoughts? Beautifully presented with a pretty dust-cover and ribbon-type bookmark. Perfect given the period in which the story is rooted.

Though the second in a series of books this is a self contained story.

Set in Victorian London where a cholera outbreak is far from the only danger to be faced. The Devil's Ribbon is a rich and yet somewhat dark tapestry of a read. As educational as it is entertaining, it seamlessly combines a murder mystery with the story of the exciting and fairly new science of forensics in a novel which gives any contemporary Crime Scene Investigation style fiction a run for its money.

Murder, dock strikes, riots, drug use, the growth of the Irish Nationalist movement, bombing campaigns, slums, fine tearooms. Then there's the wonderful relationship between Hatton and his assistant Roumande. Oh, and the 20 year old widow Mrs McCarthy who, with her womanly wiles, provides the romantic interest. It's all here in this remarkably descriptive novel and yet for some unknown reason I was left feeling oddly disappointed.

Copyright: Petty Witter @ Pen and Paper.
Disclaimer: Read and reviewed on behalf of NEWBOOKS magazine, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.
The Devil's Ribbon (Hatton and Roumande)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2013
Following straight on from Devoured, I waded with great excitement into Meredith's second book. Devil's Ribbon is a slightly different proposition from Devoured. With less exotic retrospective (Lovecraft-style) it is a much more immediate story.

Based a couple of years after the first book, Devil's Ribbon introduces new characters that are fun, fascinating and thoroughly well-crafted. Moreover, the protagonists (Hatton and Roumande) have acquired a great deal more depth and character and have moved from being principal characters to good and familiar friends. There seems to be stronger characterisation in this novel that really makes the reader see and understand the characters.

Style-wise there is little change from the first book (which is a blessing.) Devoured carried a deep atmosphere and graceful writing that I would hate to have surrendered.

But much as with Devoured, what really fascinates me is the plot and the intricacy of it. Devoured had a complex and incredible well-thought out plot. The Devil's ribbon moves a step up the ladder from that. Some third- to half-way through TDR I formed an opinion of whodunnit, and even some basic theories as to how and why. I could see even then that there was more than one thread running throughout, and they would need examining separately, in the way Hatton does in his mortuary. One thread is a somewhat socio-political plot based around the dreadful history of the Irish potato famine and the Anglo-Irish troubles. The other - the central one - is somewhat more personal. I thought I had nailed it, though I could not work out as I read how all the loose ends tied in. I was, needless to say, wrong. Dammit! As I closed on the book's end, I discovered that my clear-cut solution was only an ingredient of the truth, which was elegant in a way I am coming to see as typical of Meredith's writing.

Moreover, I would say that I seem to have learned a lot from this book. A lot of history I was previously completely oblivious to.

There is clearly no definite limit to what Meredith can do with her characters. Hatton and Roumande are strong characters and the first two books show that they are only becoming stronger and deeper as their author explores both their past and their soul (the former is key to the plot of book 2). he sky is the limit for this series, and I cannot wait to see what the author does next.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2013
The Devil's Ribbon is an utterly compelling story of political intrigue and gruesome murder. The violent death of Unionist MP, Gabriel McCarthy lead Victorian pathologists, Hatton and Roumande, into complex web of Fenian politics with sinister plotting, tense confrontations and dark allegiances.

This is the second investigation for expert forensic scientist, Adolphus Hatton and his assistant, Albert Roumande. When Hatton is summoned to the house of the murdered politician, he falls under the spell of his beautiful widow, Sorcha, who reminds him of his past love, lost in tragic circumstances. Hatton's character is subtly developed in this story, exploring his loneliness and need for love through memories from his adolescence and revealing his own intrinsic link with Ireland's past. As more horrific murders leave a trail of tantalising clues, Hatton is forced to collaborate with Inspector Gray, a flamboyant and colourful police officer with whom he shares a complicated and ambiguous history.

The plot is totally gripping and as the murders take place, the turbulent history of Irish separatism unfolds with all the characters enmeshed in buried secrets and clandestine plots. The pace is fast moving with unexpected twists and turns as events reach a series of explosive climaxes that rock the very foundations of Victorian society and put Hatton's skills to the test like never before as he races against the clock to find the perpetrator of the crimes before more fall victim to this brutal and violent conspiracy. The ending is completely unpredictable and beautifully written in the style of the Victorian murder mystery tradition.

Denise Meredith is a brilliant storyteller and recreates the atmosphere of Victorian London with evocative and powerful descriptions from the eye-wateringly accurate accounts of dissections in the morgue to the squalor and misery of the city's notorious rookeries. The novel also gives a fascinating insight into the causes and motivation that led to the nineteenth century Fenian bombing campaigns with vivid and shocking descriptions of the poverty and starvation suffered by the Irish during the Great Famine.

I absolutely love spending time with Hatton and Roumande in their murky world of early forensics, murder and intrigue and I can't wait for their next adventure.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2013
I read and very much enjoyed Devoured, also by D E Meredith, so was looking forward to this new book. Everything I hoped for and more - and one of the most atmospheric and beautifully written openings I've come across in a long time. Hatton and Roumande go from strength to strength.
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