“Man’s inhumanity to man / makes countless thousands mourn!” (Burns)
The year is 1858, high summer. Temperatures in London are soaring, and the city’s beleaguered residents are suffocating under the weight of odious vapours rising out of the Thames - a river so polluted that the only life it can support is of the bacterial kind. In the morgue of St Bart’s Hospital, Smithfield, the resident pathologist, Professor Hatton, and his assistant, Monsieur Roumande, are knee-deep in diseased-ravaged corpses, a consequence of the cholera epidemic sweeping through London’s slums.
But worse is to come. Enlisted by Scotland Yard to help investigate a string of strange murders, Hatton and Roumande find themselves exposed to an altogether different kind of toxicity, more insidious than cholera, and almost as deadly. Drawn into a poisonous atmosphere of political unrest and revolutionary fervour, the pair follow a green-ribboned and bloody trail from the affluent suburbs of northwest London to the heaving rookeries of St Giles, where poverty-stricken Irish immigrants, driven from their homeland by famine and British oppression, harbour a deep-rooted desire for revenge. Both men will need to push the boundaries of their fledgling science - forensics - to the very limit if they are to have any hope of halting the terrifying killing spree.
In The Devil’s Ribbon, the second in the Hatton and Roumande series of murder mysteries, D.E. Meredith deftly weaves a suspenseful and multi-faceted tale of political intrigue, abuses of power, long-held secrets, and insatiable bloodlust. Set just a decade after the devastating Great Famine in Ireland, and featuring a host of convincing characters, the story draws its inspiration from the long and bedevilled conflict between Ireland and the rest of Britain, an ugly and long-running drama from which neither side emerged unsullied.
The Devil’s Ribbon reveals the author’s remarkable insight into an emotive, highly-charged and painful period of Anglo-Irish history. Painstakingly researched, this book is more thought-provoking than a Victorian crime novel has any right to be.
“Revenge is a wild kind of justice.”
The Devil's Ribbon by D.E. Meredith is published by Allison & Busby. Out in hardback and as ebook now. The first Hatton and Roumande mystery, Devoured, is also available.