The first thrilling historical crime novel starring Thomas Hawkins, a rakish scoundel with a heart of gold, 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.
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.
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.