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The devil in the Marshalsea

The devil in the Marshalsea

Hodgson, Antonia, author

London, 1727 - and Tom Hawkins is about to fall from his heaven of card games, brothels and coffee-houses into a hell of a debtor's 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 ruthless 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, as brought further terror to the gaol

Hardback, Book. English. Historical fiction. Historical.
Published London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2014

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Statement of responsibility: Antonia Hodgson
ISBN: 1444775413, 9781444775419
Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Physical Description: xiv, 384 pages ; 24 cm
Subject: Marshalsea Prison (Southwark, London, England) Fiction.; London (England) History 18th century Fiction.

Author note

Antonia Hodgson was born and grew up in Derby and studied English at the University of Leeds. THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEA is her first novel. She lives in London.


I really did like this - it gives a wonderfully convincing picture of the seamier side of eighteenth-century life. (The novel is a sort of Tom Jones Noir, I suppose.) The narrative whips along. The picture of the Marshalsea is quite chilling. Antonia Hodgson has a real feel for how people thought and spoke at the time - and, God knows, that's a rare talent. I very much look forward to discovering what Tom Hawkins does next - I imagine it won't be a career in holy orders.
Andrew Taylor||Hodgson's utterly compelling debut is fiendishly plotted and dripping with atmosphere. I cannot wait for Tom Hawkins' next adventure.
Mark Billingham||'A hugely enjoyable and fast-paced story which takes the reader into the dark world of Georgian crime. The vividly drawn cast of characters is worthy of Dickens himself.'
Tracy Borman||Antonia Hodgson's London of 1727 offers that rare achievement in historical fiction: a time and place suspensefully different from our own, yet real. 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.
Elizabeth Kostova, internationally bestselling author of THE HISTORIAN||Jeffery Deaver||A perfectly realised scary and exciting world; this is a book to lose yourself in.
Jenny Colgan||John Taylor (Duran Duran)||Deliciously dark and twisted, THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEA is a back-stabbing, blood-curdling, cut-throat murder mystery that lights a candle to a wicked and thrilling moment in history. A heart-pounding labyrinth of dead ends, wrong turns, grisly betrayals and intrepid souls, it is a rich and powerful evocation of eighteenth-century London in all its stinking glory. Marvellous.
Victoria Fox||Superbly written, historically accurate, always convincing and often quite chilling . . . [Hodgson] has an amazing feel and understanding for how people thought and spoke, an absolute necessity for the genre not always strictly adhered to, and a broad enough mind to chronicle its excesses rather than sensationalise them . . . This magnificent story, part social history, an exploration of many faces of evil, with a genuine romantic, if naive, hero of a type I had thought long dead, set in a fast-moving, exciting and genuinely frightening world, is a book to savour. There are enough twists and dead ends to satisfy the most critical and with all the action centred on a few days, the pace is relentless. This is an absolutely superb debut novel.
Crime Review||THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEA really is something new in the world of historical crime fiction. Such is the detail and atmosphere of Hodgson's writing that at times she even rivals Dickens. Lovers of historical crime need to keep a weather eye on Ms Hodgson.
Daily Express||

Hodgson has a knack for convincing dialogue that crackles with period cadence and flavour.

There are enough plot twists to fill an upturned three-corner hat and a cast of memorable and believable inmates, good and bad. This is a riveting historical thriller that's finely crafted and difficult to put down.

Daily Mail||It is the mesh of lies and duplicity that draws you into this brilliant first novel.
The Times||[A] satisfyingly convoluted debut crime story . . . an enjoyable and well-constructed novel.
The Sunday Times||The Marshalsea debtors' prison . . . is brought to gruesome life in this highly accomplished first novel. The appalling environment springs to life in Antonia Hodgson's clear, direct prose and her rendering of 18th-century conversation is convincing . . . a remarkably good debut.
Literary Review||A stonker of a debut novel. This is hist fict at its finest, appealing to those of us who hanker after offerings from people like Bernard Cornwell and Andrew Pepper and demonstrating that Antonia is at least as good. For when we step into the 18th century London of 25 year old Tom Hawkins, we step into a Hogarth etching. The sights and smells are all there even before we get to Marshalsea prison. In fact it's evoked well enough to make us careful where we put our feet . . . Rarely has fear, filth and paranoia been so entertaining.
The Bookbag||Cleverly plotted, fast paced and scarily real.
Choice||London in the 1720s and the debts of fast-living rake Tom Hawkins land him in the Marshalsea, one of the most dangerous and corrupt prisons in British history, brought to vivid and detailed life by Hodgson. When a prisoner is murdered, Tom could early his freedom if he identifies the killer, but it means he must put his own life on the line.
Sunday Express||Something new in the world of historical crime fiction, with mesmerising detail and atmosphere.
Financial Times||

Marshalseais anything but boring. Hodgson takes Georgian London's seedy underbelly and brings it to life in the pages of her book. There is no "filler" in this novel, yet the descriptions are still detailed and vibrant. Hodgson has a natural talent for writing. The words flow seamlessly off the page and the story is captivating. She is a brilliant storyteller with a gift for weaving an amazing tale. Nothing feels forced, or overly complicated. The charm of the book is in its simplicity; she is just telling a tale without trying too hard to make it clever.

The Devil in the Marshalseahad me glued to the pages well into the wee hours of the night. I haven't had that happen in a long time. That's what makes the difference between a great novel and an amazing novel: the one you can't put down, and that is this book.

Early Modern England||[A] splendid debut . . . Impeccably researched and astonishingly atmospheric, with time past evoked so strongly that one can almost smell it, this is a truly spellbinding tale.