WINNER OF THE CWA HISTORICAL DAGGER AWARD 2014.
Longlisted for the John Creasey Dagger Award for best debut crime novel of 2014.
London, 1727 - and Tom Hawkins is about to fall from his heaven of card games, brothels, and coffeehouses to the hell of a debtors' prison. The Marshalsea is a savage world of its own, with simple rules: those with family or friends who can lend them a little money may survive in relative comfort. Those with none will starve in squalor and disease. And those who try to escape will suffer a gruesome fate at the hands of the gaol's rutheless governor and his cronies.
The trouble is, Tom Hawkins has never been good at following rules - even simple ones. And the recent grisly murder of a debtor, Captain Roberts, has brought further terror to the gaol. While the Captain's beautiful widow cries for justice, the finger of suspicion points only one way: to the sly, enigmatic figure of Samuel Fleet.
Some call Fleet a devil, a man to avoid at all costs. But Tom Hawkins is sharing his cell. Soon, Tom's choice is clear: Get to the truth of the murder - or be the next to die.
A twisting mystery, a dazzling evocation of early 18th-Century London, The Devil in the Marshalsea is a thrilling debut novel full of intrigue and suspense.
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One of the best audio books I've chosen recently
I liked both the naive but brave and resourceful narrator and his enigmatic cell mate, Fleet. They reminded me a bit of Davy and Long John Silver in Treasure Island.
This was a an atmospheric novel which also had plenty of suspense and twists and turns. I thought it was very well written and researched. Who knew that the old Marshalsea operated like a kind of concentration camp, killing poor people through brutality and starvation in the plain centre of London? Unlike the previous reviewer, I didn't find it at all repetitive, though that's often a criticism I make of audiobooks. I thought the narrator was great and didn't mind the sound effect either!
Promising but flawed.
This is very well researched and an enjoyable, fast-paced story but I felt the writing lacked depth and would have benefited from better editing . It was sufficiently engaging however, for me to try the next in the series providing Audible sorts out the sound track. My listening enjoyment of the book was really marred and my patience sorely tried by the awful and too often repeated musical refrain.
The standout character for me was not the hero,Tom, but Samuel Fleet, a sophisticated and genuinely enigmatic character who I wished has been at the heart of this novel and indeed in future books in the series. I particularly liked the selected bibliography of source materials at the end and the integration of real and imagined characters.