Summary and book reviews of The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson

The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins

by Antonia Hodgson

The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson X
The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2016, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2017, 400 pages

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Book Summary

In a new Georgian–era mystery by Antonia Hodgson, the follow-up to The Devil in the Marshalsea, Tom Hawkins prays for a royal pardon as he relives the espionage, underground dealings, and murder accusations that sent him to the gallows.

London, 1728. Tom Hawkins is headed to the gallows, accused of murder. Gentlemen don't hang and Tom's damned if he'll be the first. He may not be much of a gentleman, but he is innocent. He just always finds his way into a spot of bad luck.

It's hard to say when Tom's troubles began. He was happily living in sin with his beloved, Kitty Sparks — though their neighbors were certainly less pleased about that.  He probably shouldn't have told London's most cunning criminal mastermind that he was "bored and looking for adventure." Nor should he have offered to help the king's mistress in her desperate struggles with a brutal and vindictive husband. And he definitely shouldn't have trusted the calculating Queen Caroline. She's promised him a royal pardon if he holds his tongue, but then again, there is nothing more silent than a hanged man. 

Now Tom must scramble to save his life and protect those he loves. But as the noose tightens, his time is running out.

Prologue

No one thought Tom Hawkins would hang. Not until the last moment.

Gentlemen don't hang; not even ones found guilty of murder. Hawkins wasn't much of a gentleman, that was true, but he came from a good family. A good family with good connections. The pardon would come. Sometimes the Marshal kept it hidden deep in his pocket, only to pull it out with a flourish when the procession reached the gallows. A bit of drama for the mob. A lesson, too: an act of mercy is always a lesson.

This is what Hawkins tells himself as his cart rolls slowly out of Newgate Prison. The pardon will come. I've kept my side of the bargain. I've held my tongue. But Hawkins has a gambler's instinct, and he can feel the odds rising with each turn of the wheel.

He should have been freed hours ago. If he could only catch someone's eye . . . but the Marshal is riding up at the head of the procession, followed by a band of constables armed with staves. Their boots pound ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How credible a character is Thomas Hawkins? Who can you trust in this novel? What does it mean to be honest in this world?
  2. Research Georgian-era London to discuss how Hodgson chose to depict this world. What sights, sounds, and smells rang true to you? How much did you know about Queen Caroline before reading this and what did you learn? Do you see any parallels between the world of Thomas Hawkins and our own?
  3. "Do not confuse a disreputable life with a wicked one," Hodgson writes. What's the difference? Is Tom a moral character or not? 
  4. The idea of being an upstanding moral citizen is a significant theme in this novel. Which characters are most preoccupied with this notion? Would you say ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Once I began reading this one, though, I was so wrapped up by the third chapter, I had to stay up nearly all night to finish it! The characters are so meaty, the action so intriguing, and the scenarios so realistic, I was completely swept away – until the last word was read.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review (456 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hodgson maintains pitch-perfect suspense, craftily constructs a fairly clued whodunit, and convincingly evokes the period

Booklist

Suspenseful and filled with witty dialogue, this series is reminiscent of James McGee’s atmospheric Matthew Hawkwood novels and has the descriptive appeal of Sara Stockbridge’s Victorian mystery Grace Hammer.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Chock full of intrigue, heroism, wickedness…and even some redemption. A fun historical read.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Hodgson has provided another pell-mell romp through the top and bottom of English society, as seen through the eyes of a gentleman who is both a rogue and a naïf. Those who relish their historical action fast and vivid will enjoy the second installment of Hawkins's misadventures.

Reader Reviews

Patricia

Back in Time
This is an intriguing time passage back to Dickensian England. Characters are fully developed, and the reader finds himself/herself walking the streets of London looking right and left for the cut-purse light-footed criminal as well as quick ...   Read More

Donna T. (Orlando, FL)

Complex
Wow! This second book by Antonia Hodgson is just as good as her first. I came to respect all these characters in all their faults. Her character development is deep and complex. This era was very different than any of our experiences. She ...   Read More

Linda Hitchcock

Fans of Ellis Peters Rejoice
"The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins" is a mesmerizing, noteworthy historical mystery. I was immediately in its thrall caught by the fine writing, rich and vivid depictions of place and time evidencing thorough research as well as the compelling ...   Read More

Kathleen B. (Las Vegas, NV)

Thomas Hawkins at it again!
As soon as I received this book from Book Browse (Thank You very much) I got the first book The Devil in the Marshalsea. I enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed this one. As I was reading this novel I was worried there could be no sequel but was ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Queen Caroline

The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins is set during the eighteenth century in England, the time when King George II and his wife, Queen Caroline, ruled Great Britain. As reviewer Becky H. says, in the novel, "the picture presented of Queen Caroline is delightful — and convincingly nefarious."

Queen Caroline Queen Caroline was a native German born in the small state of Anspach. She caught the eye of George Augustus who at that time was son of the Elector of Hanover in Germany (an elector was essentially equivalent of a prince). The two were soon married and after George's father, King George I, passed away, Caroline's husband, George II, took over the throne of Great Britain and Caroline became Queen.

It is said that Queen Caroline was ...

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