November 1843. A young woman, 23-year-old Harriet Monckton, is found dead in the privy behind the chapel in Bromley, Kent. It appears she died from swallowing prussic acid, but when the autopsy reveals she was also six months pregnant, the community begin to wonder who might be responsible, and if she was deliberately killed to cover up a secret liaison. Using coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes reimagines Harriet’s last days through a series of accounts from the people who were closest to her, many of whom may have had their own reasons for wanting the young woman out of the way.
Based on a true story that shocked the nation, Elizabeth Haynes has taken a classic Victorian unsolved murder and suggested motives for the death. Though the personal records are fictional, the author’s portrayals are realistic and scarily persuasive. Haynes writes in a way that captures the mood of the community, its customs and traditions and relates all in a variety of voices and personalities that comes over as genuine and entirely feasible. With so many suspects who could easily be cast in the role of murderer, the author’s suggested solution, though chilling, makes perfect sense.
By turns fascinating, heart-breaking and utterly compelling, this is a brilliantly-crafted book that is a must for all true crime fans.
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