This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Debs Carr
It’s 1727 and Tom Hawkins, a 25 year old well- educated son of a clergyman, has pushed his luck too far in the gambling dens of the seedier side of London, ending up in the Marshalsea debtor’s prison. He soon discovers that he is to be sharing a room with Samuel Fleet, a loathed and dangerous man, who many suspect of murdering the previous occupant of their room, Captain Roberts. The Captain’s sudden death was made to look like suicide. Or was it? Captain Robert’s beautiful wife is determined to seek vengeance for her husband’s murder. Unable to pay off his debts and determined not to die in this hellhole, Tom agrees to investigate the Captain’s death, find the murderer and put the matter to rest once and for all.
The book starts well with a dramatic prologue that intrigued me. The depiction of the gaol was vivid and obviously very well researched and the horror of being kept in such a place made only too real. The prisoners’ fear of ending up on the Common side, where escape seemed only to come inside a wooden box, was brilliantly written, as were the different characters from the cruel viciousness of Samuel Fleet, the kindness of Kitty the servant girl, and the unspeakably vile prison governor. An added intrigue for me was that this story was based on diaries from inmates of that prison 300 years ago. I did though find that my interest waned a little during the first 100 pages when, after the initial drama, the plot didn’t seem to progress as much as I’d hoped. However, the story did heat up once again, as Tom coped with continued horrors, trying his best to work out who was responsible for the Captain’s death. The latter chapters had me trying, and failing, to guess the outcome, the ending was shocking and I didn’t see the final twists of the story coming at all.
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