Tom Hawkins has run out of luck. His gambling debts mean that he can’t pay his rent and someone has sent an anonymous letter to his landlord to say he’s been having an affair with his wife – no wonder he’s ended up in the Marshalsea. Befriended by some of the inhabitants but making mortal enemies of others, Tom’s only way out is to identify a killer and buy his freedom that way. Will he find the truth in time?
The back of this book gives extensive notes on the research that the author did and it definitely shows. The horrible scenes of the sheer hopelessness of the Marshalsea are vividly drawn and the characters, most of whom are drawn from real life, are so well written that they leap of the page.
I only gave this book 4 stars because I did find it a bit slow going in the beginning. The descriptions are necessary to the story but because they come all at once, nothing seems to happen for a while before bursting into life as the drama unfolds.
The is my favourite kind of book, based on real history but with a great story to go with it. I would very much recommend it, and I will be on the look out for the next one from this author with great interest.