Review: The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

Description (from cover):

‘London, 1727. Tom Hawkins refuses to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a country parson. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there’s honor there too, and Tom won’t pull family strings to get himself out of debt–not even when faced with London’s notorious debtor’s prison.
The Marshalsea Gaol is a 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 its ruthless governor and his cronies. The trouble is, Tom 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 dazzling evocation of a startlingly modern era, The Devil in the Marshalsea is a thrilling debut novel full of intrigue and suspense.’

My thoughts:

This one has been making the rounds on a lot of the blogs that I follow and because it looked interesting, I snagged it at my local library. I am glad that I had the chance to read this one. It is an eye-opening to experience into a historical world of debtor’s prisons. I haven’t read anything that portrays the debtor’s prisons and what they were really like for all who lived in them. At times this book was downright gruesome and while I really didn’t care for that all that much, I understand that the author wanted the reader to see how life was really like. 
Tom Hawkins is a character the reader loves to gripe about. He is smart, but at times he makes the worst possible choices. I really enjoyed this book and found it really hard to put down. I wanted to see how everything turned out. The author did a fantastic job in creating the world of the debtor’s prison for the reader and the characters are all so untrustworthy. One minute you think you’ve found a friend, but in reality the reader has found a foe. No one is what they appear and I loved that aspect of this book. I also really enjoyed Fleet’s character, who everyone loves to hate. He is the scapegoat of a lot of people, but he is also not what he seems.
I enjoyed the suspense and thrill ride that was this novel. I could have done without the more gruesome scenes and for that I will rate it a little lower. However, if you can put that aside, you will find that this is a beautifully written story of betrayal, intrigue and murder. I was amazed at how much research the author appears to have put into the novel as it really shows and the reader is left feeling as they are apart of something different.

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  The Devil in the Marshalsea
Author:  Antonia Hodgson
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Mariner Books
Publication Date:  June 10, 2014
Pages:  400
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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