March 29, 2013
The Devil’s Ribbon by Denise Meredith
The Devil’s Ribbon is an utterly compelling story of political intrigue and gruesome murder. The violent death of Unionist MP, Gabriel McCarthy leads Victorian pathologists, Hatton and Roumande, into the complex web of Fenian politics with sinister plotting, dark allegiances and tense confrontations.
This is the second investigation for expert forensic scientist, Adolphus Hatton and his assistant, Albert Roumande. When Hatton is summoned to the house of the murdered politician, he falls under the spell of his beautiful widow, Sorcha, who reminds him of a past love, lost in tragic circumstances. Hatton’s character is subtly developed in this story, exploring his loneliness and need for love through memories from his adolescence whilst revealing his own intrinsic link with Ireland’s troubled past. As more horrific murders leave a trail of tantalising clues, Hatton is forced to collaborate with Inspector Gray, a flamboyant and colourful police officer with whom he shares a complicated and ambiguous history.
The plot is totally gripping and as the murders take place, the turbulent history of Irish separatism unfolds with all the characters enmeshed in buried secrets and clandestine plots. The pace is fast moving with unexpected twists and turns as events reach a series of explosive climaxes that rock the very foundations of Victorian society and put Hatton’s skills to the ultimate test as he races against the clock to find the perpetrator of the crimes before more fall victim to this brutal and violent conspiracy. The ending is completely unpredictable and beautifully written in the style of the Victorian murder mystery tradition.
Denise Meredith is a brilliant storyteller and recreates the atmosphere of Victorian London with evocative and powerful descriptions from the eye-wateringly accurate accounts of dissections in the morgue to the squalor and misery of the city’s notorious rookeries. The novel also gives a fascinating insight into the events and experiences that led to the nineteenth century Fenian bombing campaigns with vivid and shocking descriptions of the poverty and starvation suffered by the Irish during the Great Famine.
I absolutely love spending time with Hatton and Roumande in their murky world of early forensics, murder and intrigue and I can’t wait for their next adventure.
The Devil’s Ribbon is available now.