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on 13 February 2017
Hmmm - read some of the poor reviews and, to be honest, I can't argue with many of them. The character of Tom is a bit all over the place and we don't get to understand who Fleet really is. Kitty sticks out like a sore thumb (as being wrong character, wrong time) and, in the beginning, there are so many new characters being thrown in that it's hard to keep up.

But, unlike other readers, I was able to set aside those annoyances as I found myself caught up in the story. It's not perfect - but it's a good debut novel and I found it an entertaining way to pass a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon. We have to remember that this is fiction and whether we're reading about vampires, Frankenstein or people being beaten in a debtors prison - we sometimes just have to let our imaginations go free and go with the flow of the tale being told.

Marshalsea was well described and you felt Tom's desperation to not be put over to the Common Side. And it was interesting to find out at the end that many of the characters had actually been real people.

I read a lot of books and I have a theory that sometimes our opinion of a book is coloured by whether the one we've read before it was very good or very bad. As I'm trying to finish one that I've been picking up and putting down for about a month now - this one seemed like light relief by comparison.

PS - I have no idea who this author is so I'm not a "relative or friend giving a 4 star review", as suggested by some reviewers.
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on 18 September 2016
A murder mystery conducted in the confines of the Marshalsea debtors prison in 1727. Thomas Hawkins, philandering son of a churchman, is sent to jail for failing to meet his debts, only to stumble into a mystery of who killed the previous occupant of his bed, Captain Roberts.

In practise, the murder plot exists solely to allow Hodgson to showcase the extraordinary (and, amazingly, historically accurate) story of the Marshalsea, a wholly corrupt institution where those with money can find bars, restaurants and servants, while those without are subject to horrendous conditions and random acts of brutality. This is an immaculately realised and little known chapter of London history. At times, the plot is a little confusing - there are perhaps two or three too many characters - but Hawkins is a likeable narrator, stumbling into one disaster after another, little more than a puppet to the power-brokers around him.
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on 12 September 2016
1725 The Marshalsea prison, London has a new inmate. Tom Hawkins finds himself imprisoned as a debtor. He didn't pay his rent , he had it, but lost it on the gaming tables now his landlord demands justice. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to a former - murdered inmate, Tom is befriended by the dead man's widow (still resident in the gaol) and Mr Grace a rough but kind hearted gaoler. Tom learns he could earn his freedom if he could discover the killer. But he's on thin ice, the Marshalsea is a brutal and lethal institution; home to death,disease not to mention the murderous population. A thug of a governor ,turnkey s with no respect for anything but coin are going to make hell for Tom. Even close friends are not what they seem.
Absorbing period drama, set in the squalor of this infamous prison. Richly drawn characters bring the story to life, of a young man forced to face death but grasping redemption as he attempts to bring a killer to justice . Fascinating historical gems throughout the story. But best of all its at the end after the story finished you find out that some of the characters depicted were real people! Brilliantly written, deservedly a best seller.
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Antonia Hodgson has written a brilliant triology starting right here.

If you love historical fiction, detective books, or just great books, then pick up her Thomas Hawkins books now. A must read. You learn all about the squalor and trials of living in London. You want to find out who the devil really is. Smoke and mirrors.

Book 1 is A Devil in the Marshalsea. Book 2 is The Last Confessions of Thomas Hawkins. Book 3 is A Death at Fountains Abbey. I have read them all and loved them all.
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on 28 June 2016
I enjoyed this book. Characters are real. Description of the time was so good that I felt I was there. A good mystery that kept you guessing until the h end.
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on 22 July 2016
Thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this great read. All the twists and turns that you want in a good crime thriller but laced with gritty Georgian manners. There's plenty of rough and tumble with heaps of historical fact thrown in for good measure.
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on 10 September 2016
I just love this type of fiction set in past times. The setting was beautifully realised and evocative and the writing was intelligent and not overblown. Historical whodunnit at its best
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on 15 August 2016
Run's along at a good rate. Very interesting as to the life and times of the 1700's well researched .
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on 2 June 2017
Really enjoyed reading the novel, part of a Trilogy, these were recommended to me and it is so different to read a novel set in the rather smelly early 18th century.
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on 28 September 2016
Very enjoyable story with good back ground history
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