Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson



Hardback:  384 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: They came for him at midnight. there was no warning, no time to reach for the dagger hidden beneath his pillow.

Favourite Quote: “I had an appointment with a ghost. It seemed impolite not to attend.” 
Favourite Quote: I opened my mouth to reply, but could not think what to say. How could I sit at supper and describe what I had witnessed to a pair of innocent young ladies? A boy of thirteen beaten to death: rotten corpses teeming with rats; waking to find my friend with his throat cut, the life stolen from his bright black eyes.
(The second quote is not exactly a 'favourite' but this quote was to me the heart of this story, not for the faint hearted.)

Literary AwardsCrime Writers Association - Historical Dagger Award

My Opinion: I enjoy reading historical fiction but that combined with a murder mystery, meant that this is a book I would never have picked up to read had it not been a Bookclub choice. Now having finished it, I have to admit that it was better than I anticipated. The period details and setting are meticulously described and I shuddered more than once as I was transported inside the debtors prison of the C18. The novel is set over just a period of a few days that the protagonist Tom Hawkins spends in this infamous jail. Based on actual events, with characters drawn from real people, everything described is based on first hand accounts from publications of the era. Certainly not for the faint hearted, some of the descriptions are particularly savage. If you have the stomach for such graphic detail and enjoy a mystery then this is one for you.  


'The Devil in the Marshalsea' Précis Courtesy of Goodreads

London, 1727 - and Tom Hawkins is about to fall from his heaven of card games, brothels and coffee-houses to the hell of a debtors' prison.

The Marshalsea is a savage 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 the gaol's ruthless governor and his cronies.

The trouble is, Tom Hawkins 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: to 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 twisting mystery, a dazzling evocation of early 18th Century London, THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEA is a thrilling debut novel full of intrigue and suspense.


Author Profile






Antonia Hodgson was born in Derby in 1971. She attended Littleover Community School where she first studied the time of the early Georgians in A-level History. She graduated with a degree in English Literature from Leeds University in 1994 and she went to work for Harcourt, Brace.

Hodgson had spent nearly twenty years in the publishing business rising to editor-in-chief at Little, Brown before she published her own first novel. As an editor she had worked with Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and the American novelists Nora Roberts and Elizabeth Kostova. Hodgson's first novel, A Devil in the Marshalsea, was set in the time of the early Georgians, William Hogarth and the Southwark prison the Marshalsea. Hodgson believes that the Georgian period was more intriguing than the Victorian era which is usually considered to be more culturally important. The book was submitted anonymously to the publishers, Hodder & Stoughton, because she was known in the publishing industry. Her first book won the Crime Writers Association's Historical Dagger award as well as being long listed for a first novel award
 The Devil in the Marshalsea her debut novel, is  the first in a series to include the protagonist Tom Hawkes. The second in the series The Last Confession of Tom Hawkins was published earlier this year.  The author  lives in London.



Photograph and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Profile  Wikipedia - Antonia Hodgson   Twitter Profile 

Facebook - Antonia Hodgson Author     Official Author Website - Antonia Hodgson

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