cover image The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins

The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins

Antonia Hodgson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-544-63968-3

Set in England in the early 18th century, Hodgson’s sequel to 2014’s The Devil in the Marshalsea is as good as her stellar debut, which won the CWA’s Historical Dagger Award. A prologue depicts Thomas Hawkins, a gentleman who has spent time in debtors’ prison, on his way to the gallows for murder, hoping against hope for a last-minute pardon. The main narrative charts the twisted path that led to Hawkins’s desperate straits. He has been living with his lover, Kitty Sparks, in London, but Hawkins, who has found that he has a taste for danger, allies himself with James Fleet, “captain of the most powerful gang of thieves in St. Giles.” Hawkins soon finds himself out of his depth when Fleet gives him an assignment that enmeshes him in royal intrigue. And things only get worse when a neighbor Hawkins threatened is stabbed to death. Hodgson maintains pitch-perfect suspense, craftily constructs a fairly clued whodunit, and convincingly evokes the period. This second novel by the editor-in-chief at Little, Brown U.K. solidifies her position as a major talent in the genre. Agent: Clare Conville, Conville & Walsh Literary Agency (U.K.). (Mar.)