The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins

Written by Antonia Hodgson
Review by Ann Northfield

The previous novel featuring Thomas Hawkins was The Devil in the Marshalsea, one of my books of the year in 2014. I could not wait to review this one, hoping it would be as good as the first. It isn’t. It is even better. Thomas Hawkins is a respectable parson’s son who has gone to the dark side. Previously imprisoned for debt, he is living in sin with Kitty Sparks and now becomes unwillingly embroiled into doing a secret job for the Queen.

The language is evocative and imaginative. One character is described as ‘an old, ruined man, on the turn like spoiled milk, sour and sickening’. The novel is based on real events of the time, as discussed in the interesting notes at the end of the book. Hodgson shows the seamy underbelly of Georgian London, and does for this era what C. J. Sansom and Rory Clements have done for Tudor times. The seedy atmosphere permeates the book without being too overpowering. ‘Disgraceful things were happening in dark corners, half glimpsed in the fluttering candlelight.’ You could conceivably read this as a stand-alone, but, honestly, why bother when you can double the pleasure – and it really is a pleasure. I really hope Ms Hodgson writes another one in this series, and soon please!