Reader reviews and comments on The Devil in the Marshalsea, plus links to write your own review.

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The Devil in the Marshalsea

by Antonia Hodgson

The Devil in the Marshalsea
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    Jun 2014, 400 pages

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There are currently 29 reader reviews for The Devil in the Marshalsea
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Denise Ann (07/10/14)

Excellent who-done-it with an honorable character to boot!
Despite the setting, or perhaps because of it, this story was gripping. Tom Hawkins needed to solve the murder and fast. All the characters were believable. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse for Tom something else would happen. Interesting to see who he could trust and how that changed with each turning of the pages. I would recommend this book to everyone!
Bill B (06/02/14)

Should win awards
A really good piece of historical fiction.

The setting isn't great. Nobody wants to be in Marshalsea Gaol, a London debtor's prison in 1720's - unless you have enough money to bribe the guards. But Ms Hodgson does a very good job describing the atrocious prison conditions. This setting is as important to the book as any of the characters.

The pace keeps moving as Tom Hawkins must solve a murder or he will probably be the next to die. The book starts a little predictably but after Tom gets to prison the surprises and twists come quickly.

Good characters and a good mystery will peek your interest and make for a pretty quick read.

Last year another historical fiction novel ,Wolf Hall, won the Mann Booker Prize.
I liked The Devil In The Marshalsea more.
Patricia S. (Yankton, SD) (04/21/14)

a touch of Dickens
In her first historic mystery, The Devil in the Marshalsea, Antonia Hodgson has crafted a fascinating story in a finely drawn setting, filled with Dickensian style characters. I read far too late into the night, unable to put this book down. It fulfills its opening promise and thoroughly satisfies. The denouement surprises while giving the reader that ah ha, of course moment. Read it, you'll like it.
Alan K. (Westport, MA) (04/17/14)

The Devil in the Marshalsea
Historical fiction set in the streets and debtors' prison in 1720's London. Fascinating material, well defined characters and a page turner. Highly recommend for fans of period pieces and mysteries.
Carole L. (Flushing, New York) (04/15/14)

The Devil in the Marshalsea
What is impressive is that this is the author's debut novel where most of the action takes place in the infamous Marshalsea jail.The author skillfully evokes the oppressive atmosphere of the prison where the protagonist finds himself after being unable to fulfill a debt.

As well, the characters seem to come alive on the page so much so that the book was hard to put down. There are various plot twists that keep the action moving. At one point, just when I thought I knew who had committed the murders, it turned out not so.

This is a book that is smartly written and I would highly recommend it. I look forward to reading the author's next book.
Mary D. (Claremont, CA) (04/13/14)

The Devil in the Marshalsea
Based on her debut novel, I would say that Antonia Hodgson has many terrific books in her future. Although the subject matter (life in debtors' jail in 1727) is a bit dark, it was also extremely interesting! The differing sides of the jail, those who could afford to pay for creature comforts vs. those who could not, in addition to those who for a variety of reasons decide to stay in the prison of their own volition, portray a view of life at its bleakest but with a few rays of hope. This book takes place over a period of 4-5 days, which are possibly the longest days in the protagonist's life. The added mystery of a murder is almost secondary to the exquisitely-drawn characters, the dramatic details of life in the jail (one can almost smell the decay and illness). I found this book to be well-written, full of complex people who are not what they seem in many ways and I look forward to future books by Ms. Hodgson. If you are a fan of mysteries in "exotic" places with lots of small but important twists and turns of fate, this is the book for you!
Jane C. (Brighton, MI) (04/07/14)

Fascinating read
As we meet Tom Hawkins, he has decided not to follow his father into the ministry. He is very deep in debt and will not ask his family for help. He ends up in the Marshalsea gaol for debtors. All that he heard heard about the prison was true and he finds that there has been a murder.

Tom gets himself involved in quietly solving the murder and is almost killed himself. The characters are well developed and are full of surprises.

I had read previously about goals and the way people lived there, but this book brought it to life. The author brings the reality of that life to the forefront.
Nancy C. (Newton, KS) (04/05/14)

The Devil in Marshalsea
This novel takes us into the 1720's London streets and prisons. We are shown the underbelly of the debtor's prison system when Tom Hawkins is unable to pay off his creditors and is thrown into Marshalsea Prison. The mystery begins when Tom is offered a way out if he can solve the murder of of another debtor. Twists and turns abound and slowly the layers of corruption are exposed. The closer Tom comes to solving the murder, the higher the chances become that he will be the next victim. A tidy ending but still an enjoyable mystery.

Beyond the Book:
  Marshalsea Prison

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