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The Devil in the Marshalsea
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Book Club Selection > January 2018 Group Read - The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

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David Gooch | 3976 comments Mod
The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

London, 1727, and Tom Hawkins is about to fall from his heaven of card games, brothels and coffee-houses into 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.

Discussion Leader - David Gooch


AngryGreyCat (angrygreycatreads) | 558 comments I checked this one out of the library and have started it. Not my usual type of read, but the writing is very engaging and has pulled me in so far.


David Gooch | 3976 comments Mod
Yes just ordered a copy myself. Noticed it was £4.99 on Amazon but picked up a copy(second hand) off ebay at half that price.


Beth Stewart | 568 comments My copy is on its way


David Gooch | 3976 comments Mod
My copy arrived yesterday so I will be reading this next.


Beth Stewart | 568 comments I am 129 pages in and am not sure if I am liking it. I would like to shake Charles and point out that you can't carry this friend forever. You are, in modern terms, an enabler. And yes, I have the picture that you have to pay for everything in the prison....the setting has been painted; let's move on to the mystery solving part of the plot.


David Gooch | 3976 comments Mod
Beth wrote: "I am 129 pages in and am not sure if I am liking it. I would like to shake Charles and point out that you can't carry this friend forever. You are, in modern terms, an enabler. And yes, I have the ..."

Interesting a third of way through nearly and not sure.
I am going to start this today so I will see but I will have to read it as I nominated it.


Beth Stewart | 568 comments LOL, David. Yes it is difficult if you have nominated it... feel obligated to read it.

Maybe the first 1/3 just sets the scene and it will improve. Charles is annoying me tho. Maybe he will become smarter. See what you think and let us know.


Beth Stewart | 568 comments
Maybe the first 1/3 just sets the scene and it will improve. Charles is annoying me tho. Maybe he will becom..."


For me, this book didn't improve. I did finish it but that's because I forced myself to read the last 100 pages.

For me, this was a disappointing read. The characters had no depth to them at all and the hero, Tom Hawkins, became annoying half way through, as he was so shallow. The author, in my opinion, went overboard in giving us historical details repeatedly through the book.

Tom's goal in life was to marry a rich lady and continue living a life of drinking and gambling and, sure enough, in true Cinderella fashion, the scullery maid becomes a rich woman and they presumably live happily ever after.

The publisher's description includes the description "thrilling ... full of intrigue and suspense". I don't think we read the same novel!


David Gooch | 3976 comments Mod
I'm about two thirds through and the character who is the one you can understand most is Fleet, conniving, underhand, devious. Still not sure why he even needs to be in that goal. Tom seemed ok but does lack a bit of backbone although he gave the appearance of it at first.
It has taken a long time to start investigating the murder and I do agree Beth to much on the historic details in places. I will finish it.....eventually.


message 11: by Beth (new) - rated it 2 stars

Beth Stewart | 568 comments I agree with David. It's unclear why Fleet remains in prison; the other one is Mrs. Roberts. She was another wishy-washy character for me; she had no hopes of solving her husband's murder and so what if she did? She should have spent her time and resources trying to get her child back instead of mourning the loss of a dead-beat husband. Too many one-dimensional characters for me.


David Gooch | 3976 comments Mod
Finally finished it and I gave it 3 stars. Average book for me which took a bit to long to get going and in the end delivered a tame mystery.


AngryGreyCat (angrygreycatreads) | 558 comments I guess I am in a minority here - perhaps because I don't generally read historical fiction, so for me it was a real change of pace. I liked learning about the Gaol and what happened there - being allowed to beg -separation in the sides of the prison, etc. I felt the mystery was more of a back story here.


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