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The Coroner's Daughter

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  531 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Dublin, 1816. A young nursemaid conceals a pregnancy and then murders her newborn in the home of the Neshams, a prominent family in a radical Christian sect known as the Brethren. Rumors swirl about the identity of the child’s father, but before an inquest can be held, the maid is found dead after an apparent suicide. When Abigail Lawless, the eighteen-year-old daughter of ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by Pegasus Books (first published September 10th 2015)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Clemens Schoonderwoert
This historical mystery novel, about a coroner's daughter, by the author, Andrew Hughes, has been a joyful revelation to me, for this story kept me captivated from start to finish.
Storytelling is of a superb quality, all characters come wonderfully to life within this thrilling tale, and the place Dublin, Ireland, and its surroundings are beautifully pictured in this very entertaining book.
The story is situated in Dublin, Ireland, in the year AD 1816, and it tells the story of Abigail Lawless, t
Barb in Maryland
Excellent historical mystery set in 1816 Dublin. You read that correctly--we're not in England anymore. Hooray!

Our heroine, Abigail Lawless, is bright, curious, and determined to get to the bottom of several cases her father has been involved with. Her investigations put her in harm's way, as well as worry her father. When her father's assistant, Ewan Weir, asks her why she feels she must do everything alone, she replies, "Because no one offers help. They insist that I stay where I belong."
Leslie Lindsay
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Spunky and bright Abigail Lawless, uncovers evidence that a recent suicide may have been murder in 1816 Dublin.

I was immediately drawn to the first line, the first page of THE CORONER'S DAUGHTER (Pegasus Books, May 2017), "For my eighteenth birthday, Father promised me the hand of a handsome young man, which he duly delivered mounted in a glass bell-jar."

And so it begins, a lovely relationship between Abby Lawless and her father, the town's coroner. Abby is a spunky, slightly quirky young woma
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries
The Year Without a Summer, 1816, attributed to the eruption of a volcano in the Dutch East Indies, provides a properly gloomy and unusual weather setting for Andrew Hughes' brilliant The Coroner's Daughter.
Abigail Lawless, the coroner's precocious daughter, early on in the novel becomes curious about a young nursemaid accused of murdering her newborn baby. Her curiosity reveals the identity of the child's father, leads to the murder of the servant (initially adjudged a suicide) and sets in motio
Renita D'Silva
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED this wonderful book! So atmospheric and full of character. Abigail was such a gutsy girl, one of my favourite heroines of all time!
Rachel (Rae)
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It didn't take long at all for me to become attached to Abigail's character I couldn't help but admire her determination to discover the truth. Even if at times she managed to get herself into some pretty tricky situations. Especially as a woman of that time wouldn't have been usually doing the things Abby did. Abby is curious, independent and eager to learn which I loved, due to her father's work she has a first hand knowledge of medical and scientific facts. Which is definitely where her curio ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am afraid I cannot join in the chorus of praise with which this book seems to have been met.

There is some fine writing, but there are also lots of very clunky passages. There is some fine historical detail but there are lots of areas which seem to me very unauthentic.

I feel the author could not make up his mind whether he was writing straight historical fiction or simply having fun and playing with the genre.There were too many strands, to none of which was full justice given. Would this have
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a wild, wild ride, and I loved it. Abigail is seemingly so calm and collected, but never boring. I can only hope this is the first in a series because the teeny tiny hint of romance begs for more.
nikkia neil
Awesome historical fiction! I loved Abigail, her courage, humor, and empathy make her unforgettable. Hope Andrew Hughes brings her back for a sequel.
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Four and a half stars.

I picked this one up on the recommendation of a strong review from Smart B*tches, and had to agree--this atmospheric mystery totally worked for me.

Abigail Lawless is the only child of the city coroner. She's grown up around her father's tools of the trade, and he has mostly indulged her curiosity, treating her as a person, not as merely female. When a young nursemaid murders her baby and then is found dead shortly after, Abigail senses all is not as it might seem and determ
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found it on the library shelf and am glad I did. It was fascinating. Abigail was exasperating at times and got herself into tons of trouble with her headstrong and naive (inexperienced?) ways. I am very glad that I did read it, however, and found it a book that was very hard to put down!
Saturday's Child
This is the first novel for this year chosen because the cover and the title caught my attention. It was worth the risk to read as I found Abigail to be an engaging character who did not fit the mould of a young woman in the 1800’s.
I really liked this historical crime novel once it got going, which was about a third of the way through. It takes place in 1816 Dublin in The Year without a Summer, a global catastrophe which is now thought to have been caused by a volcanic eruption in Indonesia in 1815.

A young housekeeper to a wealthy family kills her illegitimate child and then dies while incarcerated in the hospital, a death that is deemed a suicide. Our heroine, 18-year-old Abigail L
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
"For my eighteenth birthday, Father promised me the hand of a handsome young man, which he duly delivered mounted in a glass bell-jar." What a start!

The premise of the book is so interesting. Abby is the daughter of the town coroner in Dublin, 1816. Strong female voice with a love for science and the macabre. The stage is set with the case of an unwed maid who seemingly murders her own infant. Abby sets out to find out the truth, often putting herself in danger and her father at odds wi
Ash (It's a Word Vomit World)
Sep 27, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own, audio
I really wanted to like this one. It had all of the pieces to make a good story, and I might see how someone could be charmed by it, but it was just too slow for me. I don't always hate a slow story, but this one was drawn out. So. Very. Much. ...more
Maureen Wipf
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Usually dig Irish set mysteries, but this was lame.
Lynda Olen
Not enough of anything to keep me turning pages.

Give it a C-

Made myself finish it.
Maybe other of his works are more riveting.
I read it because my father was a coroner!!!
Ronnie Turner
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
When news of a maid’s sudden death falls upon Abigail Lawless’ ears, her intrigue is instantly piqued. Especially as Emilie Casey, just days before taking her own life, murdered her newborn baby. And yet before the birth, she knitted the boy a collection of clothes with care and dedication. Why would a mother toil for the comfort of her child only to do something as terrible as murder? Surely Emilie wouldn’t do something like that on a whim alone. Mired in confusion and uncertainty, the case of ...more
Elspeth G. Perkin
“The beginnings, perhaps, of an intriguing collection.”

In 2015 a strangely magnetic summary accompanying The Convictions of John Delahunt caught my attention and directed me into the expansive brooding atmosphere of punishing secrets, intricate metaphors and an overall impressive vintage flair with words that stayed in my mind and outside conversations for months. It was not only wonderful to find a distraction at that time from real life but a warped period puzzle all in a debut was quite somet
Lee M Williams
Let me temper my review by stating that 'read' this book as an audiobook in three separate days while working from home due to the COVID-19 safer-at-home stage. Audiobooks are great for multi-tasking however, they make it difficult to refer back to a characters actions a couple chapters ago.

I really enjoyed the main characters. I though that they were well developed and their actions stayed true to their motivations. The minor characters of this whodunit seemed to be weak in well defined motivat
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a solid historical murder mystery set in 1800's Dublin. Abigail Lawless is the daughter of the north district's coroner, whose is unconventionally (for the time) an actual medical practitioner rather than a lawyer. His wife died after a lengthy illness and he has raised Abbey on his own. She is...a little odd to say the least. She is well, if eclectically, educated and knows more about medicine and anatomy than she should. Her interests take her outside the realm of well-bred young ladi ...more
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Picked this up at the library and was instantly captured just reading the first few lines. The story opens with the murder of an infant committed by his own mother, only to find that this same woman dies committing suicide the next few days. Mystery cases like these have always personally piqued my interest and I was quick to get into it.

I absolutely loved Abigail Lawless, her personality and determination to do what's right is truly charming. Her curiosity and intelligence, her genuine interes
Julia Bell
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall I enjoyed this story and I certainly liked Abigail who helped her father in an area not open to women, that is, the profession of the coroner. I thought her an excellent heroine showing not only a great deal of skill, but also compassion and common sense as she pursued the case of several suspicious deaths.
I did have a few problems with the era in which the story is set. Sometimes I felt I was in the Regency period and sometimes it seemed to be the end of the nineteenth century. I was ve
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"For my eighteenth birthday, Father promised me the hand of a handsome young man, which he duly delivered mounted in a glass bell-jar".

And so, it begins an excellent-plotted mystery, with a great main character. And really, how could you not fall in love with a book when it begins like this?

Abigail is smart, curious and full of life and courage. She can't let an injustice go unpunished, and that leads her and her father's assistant, Ewan, into mortal danger.

Aside from the mystery, there is the
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think this book had the best beginning of any book I've read. I laughed out loud and was instantly hooked!

"For my 18th birthday, Father promised me the hand of a handsome young man, which he duly delivered mounted in a glass bell-jar. The gift-box had been waiting for me in the parlour, neatly tied with a single black ribbon. Firelight danced along the curve of the glass as I held it up. The bones, blackened at their joints, were closed over in a loose grip. The index finger and thumb curled u
Theresa Jehlik
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Abigail Lawless, the daughter of Dublin's coroner, has very unusual interests in 1816. She's interested in science, anatomy, human oddities, and solving crimes with evidence like the emerging science of forensics. When both a maid from a Brethen home (a new religious sect) and a former friend (whose family is involved in the sect) end up dead, Abigail becomes curious and then actively engaged in finding out why. When her inquiries, with the help of her father and his assistant Ewan, almost turn ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
In the early 1800's, Abigail's mother died when Abigail was young, and her father treats her almost as he would a son. When a young maid across the street has a baby and the baby is found killed, Abigail goes with her father to the house. She visits the woman in the hospital, and then the woman is killed (making it appear she cut her own wrists). Abigail is pretty sure the woman didn't kill herself and tries to find out the father. She pushes against society and the "Christian Brethren" (an ultr ...more
In 1816 Dublin, Abigail Lawless is a very atypical 18-year old. Her father, a coroner, encourages her intellect and curiosity, but at the same time, he has to reign her in. Abigail gets herself embroiled in the case of a young servant accused of murdering her newborn child. She works in the home of an influential family in an emerging, but powerful evangelical sect. Abigail is relentless in her pursuit of the truth.
I sometimes find myself getting impatient with characters like Abigail who insis
Nov 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Andrew Hughes’ The Coroner’s Daughter is an entertaining book about a girl who refuses to stay put or stop asking questions. Abigail Lawless, unlike many other girls in early nineteenth century Dublin, was indulged by her coroner father, so she never “learned her place.” It’s a good thing she didn’t, because then the deaths of an infant, his mother, and several others would have remained a mystery...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.
Stella Stenroos
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was fascinating to read about familiar places in an unfamiliar time (when O'Connell Street was Sackville Street, and when it took hours to travel from Dublin to North Wicklow - by horse and carriage, etc..), but at the same time, it was off-putting that the real Irish people were barely mentioned. Of course, for this story to exist in that time and place, this is how it would have been, but it's still off-putting. I was traumatised by the horse episode towards the end, but other than that, I ...more
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Born in Co. Wexford, ANDREW HUGHES was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. A qualified archivist, he worked for RTE before going freelance. It was while researching his acclaimed social history of Fitzwilliam Square – 'Lives Less Ordinary: Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Square, 1798-1922' – that he first came across the true story of John Delahunt that inspired his debut novel, THE CONVICTIONS OF JOHN DELA ...more

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