Sarah Keenan investigates the story that needed to be told, and the murder that has waited too long to be solved.
Elizabeth Haynes' in-depth, brilliant analysis of the coroner’s reports and witness statements surrounding the real-life unsolved murder of Harriet Monckton shines through in this novel and gives her an edge many other crime writers do not have. Haynes, having worked as a police intelligence analyst in Kent, was excellently equipped to take on the writing of Harriet’s unfortunate story, which took place in Bromley Kent, and to give her the justice she deserved but never received in the aftermath of her death. Having already published numerous works of crime fiction since 2011, Haynes was able to easily adapt the real life facts and portray them through the fictionalised accounts of the four main suspects; Reverend George Verrall, Mr Richard Field, Mr Thomas Churcher and Miss Frances Williams.
Beginning with the night of Harriet’s murder, 6th November 1843, we are taken on a 2
year journey of lies and lust through the eyes and minds of the suspects, each with secrets of their own to hide. With the book being split into multiple sections, we see not only how those around Harriet were affected by her murder, but also how Harriet herself was affected by the ongoing betrayals she faced in the final year of her life through a diary left detailing her move back to Bromley from London and how she was abused by those who supposedly loved her until her very last moment.
What I found exceptional about this book was the characters. Haynes paid a great deal of attention to those who had the biggest impact on Harriet’s final months and portrays them all as both innocent and guilty at the same time. I even found myself extremely
sympathetic to some of them, more so than I have with characters in other crime novels. I believe this is due to the fact that these people were real. They lived and loved Harriet, each in their own way, and had to deal with her murder for the rest of their lives. It struck me as I turned the last page how very sad this story truly was and how had one thing or another gone differently for Harriet perhaps I wouldn’t have read this story and that her life would not have ended after only 23 years of living it.
I rate this book 4 stars and will be definitely looking for more work from Elizabeth Haynes in the future.
Written by Sarah Keenan