Reviews of The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

The Devil in the Marshalsea

by Antonia Hodgson

The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson X
The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Jun 2014, 400 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Thrilling new historical fiction starring a scoundrel with a heart of gold and 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.

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, 1728–9

HISTORICAL NOTE

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...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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...continued

Full Review (877 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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.

Booklist
As promised in the historical note that opens Hodgson's satisfyingly twisty debut thriller, readers will encounter an eye-opening look at Georgian London's debtors' prisons and some authentically colorful swearing within its pages.

Kirkus Reviews
Hodgson's plotting is clever, perhaps even overly intricate, and the local color hair-raising.

Library Journal
History and mystery fans will both enjoy the roller-coaster twists and turns of this atmospheric historical thriller.

Author Blurb Andrew Taylor, author of An Unpardonable Crime and The Four Last Things
A wonderfully convincing picture of the seamier side of 18th-century life. The narrative whips along. Antonia Hodgson has a real feel for how people thought and spoke at the time - and, God knows, that's a rare talent.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves
The Devil in the Marshalsea reminds us at every turn that we ourselves may not have evolved far from its world of debtors and creditors, crime and generosity, appetite and pathos. A damn'd good read

Author Blurb Jeffery Deaver, author of the bestselling The Kill Room and Edge
Historical fiction just doesn't get any better than this. A riveting, fast-paced story…Magnificent!

Reader Reviews

Denise Ann

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. ...   Read More
Bill B

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 ...   Read More
Patricia S. (Yankton, SD)

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 ...   Read More
Alan K. (Westport, MA)

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.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Marshalsea Prison

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 PrisonMarshalsea Prison was ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Antonia Hodgson

If you liked The Devil in the Marshalsea, try these:

  • The Lost Apothecary jacket

    The Lost Apothecary

    by Sarah Penner

    Published 2022

    About this book

    A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary.

  • Confessions of the Fox jacket

    Confessions of the Fox

    by Jordy Rosenberg

    Published 2019

    About this book

    A love story set in the eighteenth-century London of notorious thieves and queer subcultures, this genre-bending debut tells a profound story of gender, desire, and liberation.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Big Red
    Big Red
    by Jerome Charyn
    Jerome Charyn made his name as an author of detective novels, and over the years he has taken his ...
  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...
  • Book Jacket: Fire Season
    Fire Season
    by Leyna Krow
    Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Last Nomad
by Shugri Said Salh
In her brilliant memoir, Salh chronicles the unique survival skills and folklore learned from her early life as a nomad in Somalia.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.