The Devil's Ribbon
By D.E. Meredith
(Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9780312557690, 304pp.)
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
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A trail of beribboned murders. A ticking bomb. A city about to explode.
July, 1858: London swelters under the oppressive heat of the hottest summer on record, and trouble is brewing. Forensic scientist Professor Adolphus Hatton and his trusty assistant, Albert Roumande, have a morgue full of cholera victims. The dead are all Irish, the poorest of London’s poor. They came in their thousands ten years ago, forced into the London slums by the terrible famine. Now they live segregated from the rest of Victorian society, a race apart in this heaving city who are at once everywhere and nowhere. But they are a close knit people, and deeply politicised. From the docks in Limehouse to the taverns of St Giles, Fenian groups are talking of violence and of liberation.
When a series of violent murders threatens to cause tensions to boil over, Scotland Yard calls on Hatton and Roumande to help investigate. The seemingly unconnected victims, who hail from all strata of society, are linked by the same macabre calling card: a bright Fenian green ribbon placed strategically about their corpses. While Hatton’s search for clues leads him into the spell of a blindingly beautiful woman, a widow of one of the slain, rumblings of a bombing campaign led by an agitator priest and his gang of would-be terrorists build throughout the slums. As the orchestra of veiled motives, divided loyalties, and violent retribution reaches a crescendo, Hatton’s skills are tested to the limit. With Roumande, he must race across London to an island with a shipwreck and a secret on a nail-biting race against time in this gripping, elegantly executed Victorian mystery in the tradition of The Dante Club and The Somnambulist.
D.E. MEREDITH read English at Cambridge, then ran the press office and the land mines campaign for the Red Cross, travelling extensively to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Rwanda during the conflicts. She worked as a consultant on media relations for Greenpeace and other worthy causes before embarking on "The Hatton and Roumande Mysteries" series for St Martin's Press (DEVOURED, Oct 2010, THE DEVIL'S RIBBON Oct 2011). She has two boys, a tall husband, a barking (mad) Parsons Terrier and lives at a secret location on the River Thames. When not writing, she runs, rides her bike like a lunatic or eats home made cake. Visit her online at demeredith.com.
Praise for The Devil's Ribbon: "Meredith’s latest is similar to Lawrence Goldstone’s Anatomy of Deception (2008) in tone and plot and every bit as suspenseful as Will Thomas’ To Kingdom Come (2005). Meredith’s characters, with their complex past lives and unique motivations, bring pathos and humor into a compulsively readable historical thriller." --Booklist "This second series entry (Devoured, 2010) neatly combines history with a puzzling mystery and solid characterization." --Kirkus "A cholera outbreak plagues 1858 London in Meredith’s lively if often gruesome second historical featuring forensic professor Adolphus Hatton and his assistant, Albert Roumande... A chaotic chase leads to a startling climax." --Publishers Weekly "Another wonderful Professor Hatton and morgue aide Roumande mystery! ... The personalities of both men are deepened as Hatton is tempted by love and reveals more of his background via memories that tie to the present case. The history is sound and the research excellent. This is a great series that will have the reader desperate for the next book." -- RT Book Reviews "An engaging and well researched read. It deals with two particularly dark events in Anglo-Irish history with sensitivity and skill... This is historical crime that’s not afraid to roll its sleeves up and get covered in blood and guts. If that’s your thing, then this is definitely worth reading. It’s an enjoyable introduction to the series with an excellent sting in the tail." --crimefictionlover.com "This mystery is expertly rendered.... The work is masterfully researched, rich in its depiction of the budding science of pathology as well as its information on early crime detection methods. If the novel is overflowing with violence, it is never gratuitous, stemming instead from the rampant injustice of those times. Add in the author’s obvious talent for writing, we have an excellent historical mystery that is well worth a reader’s time." --historicalnovelsociety.org "Sherlockian fans will be happy to note that the well has not dried up in this genre... well-researched, well-written, and frankly, on par with Doyle." --zencherry.wordpress.com "The Devil's Ribbon, a deliciously dark and page-turning treat for all souls who are similarly drawn to the red meat of sensation." --newreads.blogspot.com "A deliciously dark and page-turning treat." --drforrest.wordpress.com "A good mix of historical fiction and dark mystery. Readers who enjoy both those genres will find this a satisfying read." --CaribousMom.com "D.E. Meredith has out-shined (or out-grossed) her superb debut novel, Devoured, with her latest historical gem, The Devil's Ribbon. She has deftly combined history with horror in a complex, intriguing plot involving a series of macabre murders... From the opening act of bloody murder to the shocking conclusion, I was spellbound by a depiction of Victorian London in all its gritty, polluted, drug obsessed harshness. My heart literally leaped inside my chest when the killer's identity was finally revealed; I didn't have a clue." --GumShoeReview.com
"Rarely does an historical novel allow you to enter that time almost seamlessly, reflecting every facet of life from the grand houses to the poorest slums. Nor do most mystery novels plunge so deeply and passionately into the realm of the human heart, in sharp contrast to the scientific, investigative work. The Devil's Ribbon takes the reader into the minds of the victims, the rebels and oppressors and shows the face of despair and prejudice of the times that sadly still survive today. This book makes the politics and the issues of the day real, and shows the reader the people behind one of the greatest tragedies of the 19th century. It is the dark side of the Victorian era contrasted with a time of growing scientific knowledge and social unrest put together brilliantly in this novel. Highly recommended." -- iloveamysterynewsletter.com
"Dark, gritty, and very often gruesome in the descriptions of the the autopsies, D.E. Meredith has created an eye-opening series that is the start of the coroner and medical examiner system that we utilize today. We see the chief characters as people with needs,desires and regrets, not just officials that do what it takes to finish the job. Fans of medical mysteries should give The Devil's Ribbon and the Hatton and Roumande series a try." --freshfiction.com"The Devil's Ribbon is an interesting, original concept - a sort of Victorian version of Silent Witness. Hatton and Roumande are portrayed as scientists at the cutting edge of forensics, searching corpses and murder scenes for clues, but also as real people with real lives and weaknesses... a readable, enjoyable story full of historical detail and horror." --ourbookreviewsonline.blogspot.com
"Readers will enjoy the mix of personal and professional as well as the historical background of the Irish in England, the famine, and the dreadful lives of the destitute." --Seacoastonline.comPraise for D. E. Meredith and Devoured:
“Devoured steeps us in the danger of Victorian London and the discovery of modern forensics, combining classic storytelling with a finely-executed historical moment. Meredith packs her debut with charm and wit enough to carry us into any adventures to come with these sparkling characters.” –Matthew Pearl, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Dickens
"Devoured is an absorbing mystery, with an atmosphere that captures wonderfully the contrasts of science and superstition, of domesticity and imperial exoticism, that made the Victorian era so richly interesting. Hopefully a sequel is already on the way!" --Charles Finch, author of The Fleet Street Murders
“Lovers of Victorian mystery will delight in Denise Meredith's terrific debut, where murder, the science of specimen collecting, and early forensic medicine combine into a riveting adventure.” –Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar Award-winning author of In the Shadow of Gotham
"Meredith’s debut novel delves into the ugly secrets of that straight-laced time and believably renders life among the different social strata.... Think Michael Cox (The Meaning of Night) meets Jonathan Barnes (The Somnambulist). Strongly recommended for fans of historicals. --Library Journal, starred review
"Meredith’s research is superb. The smallest details show the interior life of the characters and the conditions they lived in. This is a dark story, but fascinating and brilliantly executed." --RT BookReviews, 4 and a half stars
"Something special. And then some.... Meredith, an Englishwoman with a degree from Cambridge University, has a fertile mind, from which springs a shocking conclusion that, in retrospect, is perfectly apparent. She fills this story of unbridled evil and immense sorrow with memorable characters and graceful prose, and her portrait of a world at an intellectual crossroads is powerful and evocative." --Richmond Times Dispatch
“Cleverly plotted… charming and convincing—very well done, and this likable and brainy team of detectives probably has a future.” -- Sullivan County Democrat
“If this debut is any indication, we are in for a long run of entertaining and thoughtful books.… Dark, creepy and fascinating Devoured is a book that lingers long after the reading is done.” –Crime Spree magazine
"This debut novel by Denise Meredith is an entertaining read. It reminded me of Masterpiece Mystery... The author does a good job of bringing the wintry streets of Victorian London and the steamy jungles of Borneo to life as she tells her story." --Historical Novel Society
"Fans of historical mysteries, especially those set in Victorian Europe, will definitely want to read D.E. Meredith's Devoured. A high body count, creative death scenes, cruel villains, beloved heroes, intriguing plots and subplots, and an exotic setting make this novel an enjoyable read." --GumshoeReview.com
“Devoured is a fascinating and sinister mystery set in Victorian London—in a time when a person could be killed for believing in something other than what was accepted.” –Nightandweekends.com
“A complex amalgam of mystery and bloody terror, Devoured ties new and sacrilegious theories of evolution to the mysteries of nineteenth-century forensic techniques.… From the series of gruesome murders to the exotic delights of Broderig’s letters to Hatton’s burgeoning science, Meredith’s tale is filled with dissenters and religious bigots, devious villains and buried animosities. The ultimate truths of men is lit by a microscope and a lamp, and it appears that all is ripe for Hatton and Adams to return in another outing, their vibrant partnership already taken to the brink as they walk the streets of a violent London, determined to protect the innocent against the deadliest schemes of men.” –Curledup.com"If you are a mystery fan, particularly a Victorian mystery fan, I would highly recommend this book. It was fast paced and did not lag, there was a little bit off everything in the book, a romance, murder, politics, history, and betrayal…it has all the makings of a great series." --thelitbitch.com