The poor parish of St Anne’s in London’s 1830s Limehouse district forms the backdrop for Patrick Cox’s latest novel, Limehouse Boys, which follows a couple of tense plot-lines to their dramatic convergence.
In one plot-line, twelve-year-old orphan, Ned Farrier, is committed to Shadwell Workhouse and falls under the corrupt control of Beadle Hewlett, who uses the boys in his charge in a variety of criminal enterprises. Another of the book’s plots involves Mick Howell, a former Master’s Mate of the Royal Navy, who is determined to take vengeance on Beadle Hewlett and his gang for the suffering they caused his brother.
In a very lively and fast-paced story, Cox weaves these plots together into a satisfyingly dramatic narrative, and a believably detailed portrait of the now-vanished world of London barge-men.
Ned Farrier and Mick Howell are interesting characters, and the large cast of secondary characters are equally well-presented.
A solid, enjoyable read.