Top positive review
on 10 August 2016
The Devil in the Marshalsea is the first in a historical crime series by Antonia Hodgson, featuring Tom Hawkins. Set in 1727 in the debtor’s prison Marshalsea in London, it is all about the hunt for a killer!
Imagine owing money to creditors and falling on hard times. In 1727, you would be sent to a debtor’s prison, which could possibly be the death of you. Debtor’s prisons were run for profit and prisoners were expected to pay for meals and accommodation. They were forced to negotiate their debts and treated as criminals. Social hierarchies were very much in existence, with rooms for the ‘masters’ who could pay and the ‘common’ cattle class for those who could not. Death and torture were a part of life. Into this setting, comes Tom Hawkins. Hawkins is your eighteenth century lad; a bloke into women, booze and gambling. His only means of escape from this hellish place is to solve a murder. A man is said to be haunting the place, the ghost of Captain Roberts. Roberts was murdered and his room mate is the prime suspect. Hawkins is soon risking his life, in a place where danger is round every corner and it is impossible to know who to trust.
Based on what actually took place in the Marshalsea Debtor’s Prison, Hodgson takes us on a marvellous and terrifying journey. Hodgson creates this amazing world, where you can imagine the depravity and insanitary conditions. Tom Hawkins must use all of his cunning, leave his naivety behind and see beneath the grime and the deception. There is something about him, that charms and captivates. At heart, he is a good man. He suffers and he cares. This is a mystery, with a prison full of suspects and the clock ticking.
Absolutely enjoyable and incredibly well paced. I raced through this, completely addicted to the gritty, down to earth feel of a nightmarish prison and eighteenth century life. Thomas Hawkins has a new fan in me! Recommended.