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The Devil's Acre

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  264 ratings  ·  36 reviews
When betrayal is second nature, trust is the ultimate gamble.

London, 1853. On the banks of the Thames, American entrepreneur Colonel Samuel Colt sets up a state-of-the-art weapons factory, capable of turning out his famous revolvers in their thousands. When Edward Lowry is hired as Colt's secretary, he is amazed by his good luck, but then he starts an affair with a girl fr
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 24th 2010 by Harper (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  264 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Lauren White
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sue G
Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
I found this book a real struggle. I quite enjoy historical fiction but this was too heavy on the detail and descriptions and I found myself skipping through lengthy passages if it looked like nothing important was happening. To its credit I did manage to see it through to the end.

There were several plotlines and a certain amount of "intrigue" but I don't think the author really managed to pull them all off. The different threads had an odd mix of political as well as action, as if the author w
Tara Galligan
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I struggled through the first part of this book and then sad to say I willy gave up. 'Life is too short'. I found I had no empathy with any of the characters as they were all extremely flat. The Irish element I found annoying also. May go back to it at some stage but would have to be fairly desperate. ...more
Jan 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
I enjoy historical fiction but with this book I felt way out of my comfort zone. The descriptions were very lengthy at times and I just skimmed most of them.
Well, to be honest, I skimmed most of the book.
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
Gosh this has taken me a long time to read! I found it hard going in places but wanted to find out how it ended so persevered.Am pleased I finished it (and glad it's over!) ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favourites. Firstly, I loved the setting. The descriptions of Victorian London really drew me into that world. Having lived in London some of the places in the book are really familiar and when I walk by places like Greenwich Park I'm reminded of scenes in the book and find myself playing spot the difference between the present day and Victorian times.
The story itself is exciting and fresh. You can tell the author really knows what he's writing about. The Colt revolver plays a
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yardie-books
I was extremely excited about this book when I purchased it, however after reading the reviews left on here I ended up hesitating and doubting if I would like it. It sounded as if previous readers found this book extremely slow-paced and not so gripping.

I am glad to say I did eventually pick it up and gave it a read. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!! Yes, it was a little slow-paced at times, but no way near long enough for me to lose interest. I found the description in this book so vivid. Matthew Plamp
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
So it took me an undeniably long time to finish this and that is in part because I found the writing very heavy going in places. The writer has done a heap of research for this book and that really comes through, so if you’re looking for historical accuracy look no further! On the other hand that bogged the progress and flow down in places. The plot was great and fully utilised everything possibly available in the backdrop of Victorian London. And I find myself missing the characters which is ob ...more
Louise Bray
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I normally really like historical fiction and the blurb sounded so interesting, but alas no. I think if you love really long-winded descriptions of guns and gun-making machines you'll love this, but I just found it really dragged with all the excessive narration. It did pick up towards the end though when the action started. ...more
Kayley Annett
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a fantastic juxtaposition of opulent parliament and seedy london rookeries. The presence of the main characters on the page was almost tangible and very well characterised, and Plampin has managed to capture minor characters through the eyes of the narrating voice. I enjoyed the writing style as well with its detailed descriptions of the grim alleys and people in the story.
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good fast paced read
MG Mason
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I occasionally try to read out of my comfort zone. Granted, historical fiction is within my comfort zone but only when it's a period or subject about which I know a lot or have a keen interest in. I can't say I knew all that much about Samuel Colt when this book came into my possession, but the blurb sounded interesting, promising political intrigue in Victorian London during the period of the gang warfare in the 1850s on the eve of The Crimean War.

Samuel Colt is an American industrialist lookin
Kurt Keefner
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
I read this because it is set in a factory with an industrialist as one of it's main characters. I'm looking for productive heroes.

It isn't a bad book. It tells an interesting story surrounding the real Samuel Colt's attempt to sell revolvers to the British military by setting up a factory in London, recruiting workers from the poorest neighborhood, the so-called Devil's Acre. The problem is Colt is not to be trusted and some of his workers are Mollie Maguires (Irish terrorists) who want to ste
Huw Evans
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, fiction
Sam Colt, the American entrepreneur, is looking to set up a factory in London to manufacture his revolvers using his assembly line techniques that revolutionised arms manufacture. It was set up in the 1850s at the time of the Crimean war (1853-56) and he firmly hoped that the English would place a significant order for his weapons. Unfortunately, for him, no such order was placed and his factory closed four years later. It was, indeed, visited by Charles Dickens as well as other more appropriate ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it
In 1850s London, American entrepreneur Samuel Colt opens a factory to manufacture his firearms. Staffed with some of the city's poorest, inhabitants of the slum area called the Devil's Acre, the undertaking is a hotbed of voilence, plots and political intrigue which seems bound to end in a conflagration.

I love anything set in the Victorian era, so was pleased to receive a copy of this book as a Christmas present. I really enjoyed the first half of the book and found it quite reminiscent of somet
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a review book for newbooksmag -

Set in Victorian England 1853, The Gunmaker’s Gift tells the captivating story of how American gun maker Samuel Colt brought the production of the colt pistol to a factory in Pimlico. The Crimean war clouds are gathering and it appears that the time is ripe for weapon production on a grand scale. With a workforce gathered from the fragments of the poorer parts of London, the factory floor is ripe with plots, political instability and disorder. Well written
Janette Fleming
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
WHEN Samuel Colt sets up a gun factory in the heart of Victorian London, his new London secretary sees only career advancement and excitement ahead. But it is not long before Colt’s deadly product brings conspiracy, bitter deception and bloodshed to the streets of Westminster.
Among the workforce Colt has gathered from the seething mass of London’s poor are a gang of desperate Irish immigrants, embittered refugees from the potato famine, who intend to use these stolen six-shooters for a political
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Grieve
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I would have given this 4 1/2 stars if possible as it was a really good book.
I wasn't sure what to expect of the tale of Samuel Colt and his revolver factory built in Pimlico in mid 19th century London as it was something I know nothing about. However, by blending fact and fiction Plampin has created an engrossing and fascinating story with a real feel for the time and the environment. The story revolves around Colt, his English secretary Lowry and an engineer Rea, the latter of whom lives in th
Marguerite Kaye
I gave up on this about two thirds of the way through so I haven't rated it. I wanted to finish it, I really wanted to like it, but I just got bored. The subject matter is interesting, the setting is fascinating, it's well-written, and historically really well researched, but the characters didn't hold me. I think the problem was that you never really got to know them as anything other than plot devices, and so when the plot started to unfold and you could see the mess they were going to get int ...more
Victoria Conlan
Sep 08, 2014 rated it liked it
I don't know what I did not like about this book. The story was kind of ok, the characters were kind of interesting, the writing was ok ... but for some reason it just didn't pull me in or make me care about anyone or anything that was going on. Which is possibly why it took me over 2 years to complete reading it! (I lost the book, I didn't care enough to put the effort in to find it again)
I am giving it a generous 3 stars because by the end I did want to know how it all finished (although I pre
David Fishel
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I guess either you like historical fiction or you don't. I do and found this book by accident and was enthralled. It pictures Sam Colt as an opportunistic, manipulative,uncultured, capitalistic boor as only Americans can be! The machinations he goes through to attemp to manipulate the British government into buying his gun; even to the extent of trying to sell his British made guns to their Russian adversaries, was fascinating. The trouble with historical fiction is that you never know what is h ...more
Oct 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
So disappointed. Bought 'The Street Philosopher' on a whim (aka because it was cheap!) in Fopp and really enjoyed it. Most especially The Crimean War detail, which surprised me. With 'The Devil's Acre' if found myself disliking ALL the characters which became a real obstacle to any enjoyment or interest in how the affairs of the 'navy colt' were going to conclude. ...more
Jul 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Read from book club list and definitely not something I would have looked at had it not been on the list - interesting historically, nicely woven fiction with fact - surprised myself and found it a good read
Beth (bibliobeth)
A decent and interesting tale about the infamous colonel colt and his attempts to set up a weapons factory in London. I liked the writing style, the imagery of that time, and the Irish presence with the religious catholic/Protestant issues. Worth a read!
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting story that pulls you in with great character development which leaves you feeling as if you know each personally. Some parts dragged a little bit too much for my liking but the story flowed well. Would recommend.
Dec 07, 2010 added it
Couldn't really get into it. Might come back to it at a later date. ...more
Carey Combe
Dec 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Oh god, about five ridiculous stereotypes within the first chapter plus way too many exclamation marks meant I couldn't get past chapter 2. ...more
Aug 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
Dull, couldn't finish. Life is too short for boring books. ...more
Amy Smith
So far so good but the description of the characters and places are a little heavy
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Matthew Plampin was born in 1975 and grew up in Essex. He read English and History of Art at the University of Birmingham and then completed a PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. He now lectures on nineteenth-century art and architecture.

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