It's 1727. Tom Hawkins is damned if he's going to follow in his father's footsteps and become a country parson. Not for him a quiet life of prayer and propriety. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there's a sense of honor there too, and Tom won't pull family strings to get himself out of debt - not even when faced with the appalling horrors of London's notorious debtors' prison: The Marshalsea Gaol.
Within moments of his arrival in the Marshalsea, Hawkins learns there's a murderer on the loose, a ghost is haunting the gaol, and that he'll have to scrounge up the money to pay for his food, bed, and drink. He's quick to accept an offer of free room and board from the mysterious Samuel Fleet - only to find out just hours later that it was Fleet's last roommate who turned up dead. Tom's choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder - or be the next to die.
'Conscience makes ghosts walk, and departed souls appear . . . it works upon the imagination with an invincible force, like faith.'
Daniel Defoe, The Secrets of the Invisible World Disclos'd, 1729
'Arose about four. In the Park I saw half a Dozen Crows in very hoarse conversation together, but not understanding their Language I cou'd not devise what they were upon, but believe they was agreeing how to divide the Corps of those unhappy wretches that Dye so briefly in this Place.'
John Grano, A Journal of My Life while in the Marshalsea, 17289
The Devil in the Marshalsea is set in the autumn of 1727 in London and Southwark, which was generally regarded as a separate town at the time. King George I had died in June. His son, George II, was now king, although he was not crowned until October. People were curious to discover what sort of a monarch he would turn out to be. (A philistine and a buffoon, if we are to believe...
A cunning debut historical mystery by Antonia Hodgson, editor in chief of Little, Brown, UK. Thoroughly researched, this mystery is set in London's Marshalsea debtor's prison in 1727. Populating her fast-paced narrative with real-life characters, Hodgson weaves a vivid tale which intrigues both as a solid historical mystery as well as a lucid portrait of a little known aspect of early Eighteenth century London society… A winner! I read, I learned, I thought about this book for many days after I finished reading it.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Full Review (1247 words).
A fragment of a wall is all that is left of Marshalsea Prison.
But Charles Dickens has made sure that its memory lives on. His father was imprisoned in Marshalsea Prison in 1824. He owed forty pounds to a local baker (about 3000 pounds today). Charles scurried around the city trying to collect money on his father's behalf but it was insufficient and his father was arrested. Dickens was only twelve years old at the time. While the rest of his family moved into the prison with his father, he took up lodging nearby, worked full time and used the money to support them and his lodging. The whole experience left a huge, terrible impression on him; one that he never quite shook off. It showed up in his work often.
Marshalsea Prison was ...
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