A couple of months ago, D.E. Meredith and I started chatting on Twitter about her historical thriller series, which sounded very interesting to me. One thing led to another and she arranged for us to not just get to read and review her new novel but to host a giveaway for 2 autographed copies of The Devil’s Ribbon. Yay!
FYI: Although The Devil’s Ribbon is Book #2 in the Hatton & Roumande series, I haven’t read the first book and still found that Book #2 works just fine as a stand-alone novel.
It’s 1858 and London is experiencing a nasty cholera outbreak among its poorest residents, the Irish. No one knows what causes cholera, although there are a lot of theories floating around, so no one knows how to stop it until it’s run its course. The Irish had come to London in droves when the famine hit a decade before and were forced by their circumstances to live in the slums, a perfect breeding ground for disease. This latest outbreak is just part of a long line of tragedies to strike the Irish.
Professor Adolphus Hatton and his excellent chief diener, Albert Roumande, are up to their eyeballs in cholera victims in addition to their regular autopsy subjects at St. Bart’s Hospital. Hatton is a strong advocate of, and expert in, the science of forensics, which is only on the verge of becoming accepted. He and Roumande work diligently to document every aspect of death which could potentially be used to help them advance the science and to help not only learn more about disease but to also help them catch murderers in the future. It’s hard to imagine a time when so little was known about diseases. It’s also hard to imagine when fingerprinting and forensics were not a normal part of criminal investigations but both are in their infancy during this period.
“Roumande jumped down from the chair with remarkable dexterity as he announced, ‘If the summer keeps up at this temperature, we’ll soon be awash with corpses. But where and how to store them without buckets of ice?’”
When a liaison to the crown for the Irish people is murdered, Hatton and Roumande are called on to help investigate. Found in the victim’s mouth is a Fenian green ribbon, the only real clue to the murder at a scene that has been wiped clean by the victim’s too-diligent maid. At first this looks like an isolated crime but then the bodies begin to pile up, each with a Fenian green ribbon.
“…Hatton knew this man. Gabriel McCarthy MP was an Irish Unionist and so considered a friend of the British. The two countries had been forged into one, the act of Union, described in The Times as a ‘delightful marriage’ but viewed by many as nothing less than rape.”
As tensions in the Irish community come to a head, egged on by ill treatment, disease, poverty, and Fenian agitators, Scotland Yard’s brash lieutenant is not above manufacturing a killer if Hatton and Roumande can’t find the real one. So Hatton and Roumande feel extreme pressure to stop the killings and bring true justice.
“Hatton looked at the scalpel in his hand, ‘We rule them by martial law, Inspector. Anglo-Irish politics has become a poison in our midst. I cannot even walk through St. Giles these days without fear of having my throat slit, just for being an Englishman. Men of compromise are badly needed. Gabriel McCarthy is a terrible loss.’”
I loved the characters of Hatton and Roumande, as well as their professional relationship. They make a great team of investigators in addition to obviously being great friends and colleagues. Although Roumande is seen as Hatton’s assistant, my feeling was that they actually work as equals, with each filling in the gaps in the other’s expertise.
D.E. Meredith’s research for The Devil’s Ribbon shows on every page, which is one of the things that makes this novel a joy to read. I gained new respect for the forerunners of current forensic pathologists. What they had to go through, and the circumstances in which they had to operate, really testify to how dedicated they were to their profession. I found this novel to be fascinating, possibly partially because I once dated a pathologist. I am also part Irish, so the plight of the Irish after the potato famine tore at my heart. I wasn’t sure whether to cheer for the Fenians or for the police in this case. What I was certain about was that I loved this novel! Hopefully this is going to be a series with many more books to come!
The Devil’s Ribbon was released on October 25, 2011, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below:
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2 lucky readers will each win 1 autographed copy of The Devil’s Ribbon by D.E. Meredith.
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 11/5/2011, at 11:59pm EST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 13 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
5) If you already follow PopcornReads on Twitter or Facebook, you must still complete that part of the Rafflecopter form for your follow to count as an entry.
6) If you do not provide a mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. The author will use your mailing address to ship your book to you.
7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
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