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The Devil's Ribbon (Hatton and Roumande Mystery) [Hardcover]

D.E. Meredith
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 25, 2011 Hatton and Roumande Mystery (Book 2)

A trail of beribboned murders. A ticking bomb. A city about to explode.

July, 1858: London swelters under the oppressive heat of the hottest summer on record, and trouble is brewing. Forensic scientist Professor Adolphus Hatton and his trusty assistant, Albert Roumande, have a morgue full of cholera victims. The dead are all Irish, the poorest of London’s poor.  They came in their thousands ten years ago, forced into the London slums by the terrible famine.  Now they live segregated from the rest of Victorian society, a race apart in this heaving city who are at once everywhere and nowhere. But they are a close knit people, and deeply politicised.  From the docks in Limehouse to the taverns of St Giles, Fenian groups are talking of violence and of liberation.

When a series of violent murders threatens to cause tensions to boil over, Scotland Yard calls on Hatton and Roumande to help investigate.  The seemingly unconnected victims, who hail from all strata of society, are linked by the same macabre calling card: a bright Fenian green ribbon placed strategically about their corpses.  While Hatton’s search for clues leads him into the spell of a blindingly beautiful woman, a widow of one of the slain, rumblings of a bombing campaign led by an agitator priest and his gang of would-be terrorists build throughout the slums.  As the orchestra of veiled motives, divided loyalties, and violent retribution reaches a crescendo, Hatton’s skills are tested to the limit.  With Roumande, he must race across London to an island with a shipwreck and a secret on a nail-biting race against time in this gripping, elegantly executed Victorian mystery in the tradition of The Dante Club and The Somnambulist.

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for The Devil's Ribbon:
"Meredith’s latest is similar to Lawrence Goldstone’s Anatomy of Deception (2008) in tone and plot and every bit as suspenseful as Will Thomas’ To Kingdom Come (2005). Meredith’s characters, with their complex past lives and unique motivations, bring pathos and humor into a compulsively readable historical thriller." --Booklist
"This second series entry (Devoured, 2010) neatly combines history with a puzzling mystery and solid characterization." --Kirkus
"A cholera outbreak plagues 1858 London in Meredith’s lively if often gruesome second historical featuring forensic professor Adolphus Hatton and his assistant, Albert Roumande...  A chaotic chase leads to a startling climax." --Publishers Weekly 
"Another wonderful Professor Hatton and morgue aide Roumande mystery! ... The personalities of both men are deepened as Hatton is tempted by love and reveals more of his background via memories that tie to the present case. The history is sound and the research excellent. This is a great series that will have the reader desperate for the next book." -- RT Book Reviews
"An engaging and well researched read. It deals with two particularly dark events in Anglo-Irish history with sensitivity and skill... This is historical crime that’s not afraid to roll its sleeves up and get covered in blood and guts. If that’s your thing, then this is definitely worth reading. It’s an enjoyable introduction to the series with an excellent sting in the tail."
"This mystery is expertly rendered.... The work is masterfully researched, rich in its depiction of the budding science of pathology as well as its information on early crime detection methods. If the novel is overflowing with violence, it is never gratuitous, stemming instead from the rampant injustice of those times. Add in the author’s obvious talent for writing, we have an excellent historical mystery that is well worth a reader’s time."
"Sherlockian fans will be happy to note that the well has not dried up in this genre... well-researched, well-written, and frankly, on par with Doyle."
"The Devil's Ribbon, a deliciously dark and page-turning treat for all souls who are similarly drawn to the red meat of sensation."
"A deliciously dark and page-turning treat."
"A good mix of historical fiction and dark mystery. Readers who enjoy both those genres will find this a satisfying read."
"D.E. Meredith has out-shined (or out-grossed) her superb debut novel, Devoured, with her latest historical gem, The Devil's Ribbon. She has deftly combined history with horror in a complex, intriguing plot involving a series of macabre murders... From the opening act of bloody murder to the shocking conclusion, I was spellbound by a depiction of Victorian London in all its gritty, polluted, drug obsessed harshness. My heart literally leaped inside my chest when the killer's identity was finally revealed; I didn't have a clue."

"Rarely does an historical novel allow you to enter that time almost seamlessly, reflecting every facet of life from the grand houses to the poorest slums. Nor do most mystery novels plunge so deeply and passionately into the realm of the human heart, in sharp contrast to the scientific, investigative work. The Devil's Ribbon takes the reader into the minds of the victims, the rebels and oppressors and shows the face of despair and prejudice of the times that sadly still survive today. This book makes the politics and the issues of the day real, and shows the reader the people behind one of the greatest tragedies of the 19th century. It is the dark side of the Victorian era contrasted with a time of growing scientific knowledge and social unrest put together brilliantly in this novel. Highly recommended." --

"Dark, gritty, and very often gruesome in the descriptions of the the autopsies, D.E. Meredith has created an eye-opening series that is the start of the coroner and medical examiner system that we utilize today. We see the chief characters as people with needs,desires and regrets, not just officials that do what it takes to finish the job. Fans of medical mysteries should give The Devil's Ribbon and the Hatton and Roumande series a try."

"The Devil's Ribbon is an interesting, original concept - a sort of Victorian version of Silent Witness. Hatton and Roumande are portrayed as scientists at the cutting edge of forensics, searching corpses and murder scenes for clues, but also as real people with real lives and weaknesses... a readable, enjoyable story full of historical detail and horror."

"Readers will enjoy the mix of personal and professional as well as the historical background of the Irish in England, the famine, and the dreadful lives of the destitute."

Praise for D. E. Meredith and Devoured:

Devoured steeps us in the danger of Victorian London and the discovery of modern forensics, combining classic storytelling with a finely-executed historical moment. Meredith packs her debut with charm and wit enough to carry us into any adventures to come with these sparkling characters.” –Matthew Pearl, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Dickens

"Devoured is an absorbing mystery, with an atmosphere that captures wonderfully the contrasts of science and superstition, of domesticity and imperial exoticism, that made the Victorian era so richly interesting.  Hopefully a sequel is already on the way!" --Charles Finch, author of The Fleet Street Murders

“Lovers of Victorian mystery will delight in Denise Meredith's terrific debut, where murder, the science of specimen collecting, and early forensic medicine combine into a riveting adventure.” –Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar Award-winning author of In the Shadow of Gotham 

"Meredith’s debut novel delves into the ugly secrets of that straight-laced time and believably renders life among the different social strata.... Think Michael Cox (The Meaning of Night) meets Jonathan Barnes (The Somnambulist). Strongly recommended for fans of historicals. --Library Journal, starred review

"Meredith’s research is superb. The smallest details show the interior life of the characters and the conditions they lived in. This is a dark story, but fascinating and brilliantly executed." --RT BookReviews, 4 and a half stars

"Something special. And then some.... Meredith, an Englishwoman with a degree from Cambridge University, has a fertile mind, from which springs a shocking conclusion that, in retrospect, is perfectly apparent. She fills this story of unbridled evil and immense sorrow with memorable characters and graceful prose, and her portrait of a world at an intellectual crossroads is powerful and evocative." --Richmond Times Dispatch

“Cleverly plotted… charming and convincing—very well done, and this likable and brainy team of detectives probably has a future.” -- Sullivan County Democrat

“If this debut is any indication, we are in for a long run of entertaining and thoughtful books.… Dark, creepy and fascinating Devoured is a book that lingers long after the reading is done.” –Crime Spree magazine

"This debut novel by Denise Meredith is an entertaining read. It reminded me of Masterpiece Mystery... The author does a good job of bringing the wintry streets of Victorian London and the steamy jungles of Borneo to life as she tells her story." --Historical Novel Society

"Fans of historical mysteries, especially those set in Victorian Europe, will definitely want to read D.E. Meredith's Devoured. A high body count, creative death scenes, cruel villains, beloved heroes, intriguing plots and subplots, and an exotic setting make this novel an enjoyable read." 

Devoured is a fascinating and sinister mystery set in Victorian London—in a time when a person could be killed for believing in something other than what was accepted.” –

“A complex amalgam of mystery and bloody terror, Devoured ties new and sacrilegious theories of evolution to the mysteries of nineteenth-century forensic techniques.… From the series of gruesome murders to the exotic delights of Broderig’s letters to Hatton’s burgeoning science, Meredith’s tale is filled with dissenters and religious bigots, devious villains and buried animosities. The ultimate truths of men is lit by a microscope and a lamp, and it appears that all is ripe for Hatton and Adams to return in another outing, their vibrant partnership already taken to the brink as they walk the streets of a violent London, determined to protect the innocent against the deadliest schemes of men.” –

"If you are a mystery fan, particularly a Victorian mystery fan, I would highly recommend this book. It was fast paced and did not lag, there was a little bit off everything in the book, a romance, murder, politics, history, and betrayal…it has all the makings of a great series."

About the Author

D.E. MEREDITH read English at Cambridge, then ran the press office and the land mines campaign for the Red Cross, travelling extensively to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Rwanda during the conflicts. She worked as a consultant on media relations for Greenpeace and other worthy causes before embarking on "The Hatton and Roumande Mysteries" series for St Martin's Press (DEVOURED, Oct 2010, THE DEVIL'S RIBBON Oct 2011). She has two boys, a tall husband, a barking (mad) Parsons Terrier and lives at a secret location on the River Thames. When not writing, she runs, rides her bike like a lunatic or eats home made cake. Visit her online at

Product Details

  • Series: Hatton and Roumande Mystery (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312557698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312557690
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,934,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fulfills the promise I saw in the first book October 29, 2011
First Line: Nothing but shadows and an eerie stillness in the heat of a simmering night as a figure stoops under a lintel and makes his way quickly, through a labyrinth of alleys, before finding Berry Street and heading north along the Farringdon Road.

It is July, 1858, and Londoners are suffering through the hottest summer on record. Forensic scientist Adolphus Hatton and his assistant Albert Roumande have a morgue filled with Irish cholera victims. A decade ago these people were forced into the worst of London's slums because of the horrific famine. The Irish in London may be a race apart, but they are a close knit people and very politically aware.

A series of seemingly unconnected murders occur in which all the victims are linked by a Fenian green ribbon that's left on the corpses. Hatton and Roumande are called in to help with Scotland Yard's investigation, and Hatton finds himself attracted to the beautiful widow of one of the murder victims. As agitators work the streets and the body count rises, Hatton and Roumande must race to find answers before London is torn apart.

I'm happy to say that I found this book to be a vast improvement over the first book in the series, Devoured. The plot is much clearer and the pacing much smoother. There is also more forensic detail in this book, which was so lacking in the first. Meredith includes many details of what the Irish had to endure during the Famine, both in Ireland and in London, and it adds great depth to the story.

Adolphus Hatton is given a past in this book, and he becomes a much better defined character, even though much of this is done through the convention of falling in love with the widow of one of the victims.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read! May 10, 2013
By Peggy
This is the second book in the Hatton and Roumande Mystery series. Adolphus Hatton is a forensic scientist/pathologist and Albert Roumande is his assistant. The setting is 1858 London in July. They are in the middle of a terrible heatwave and cholera epidemic in the poorest Irish neighborhoods.

Tempers are high in England following the great famine in Ireland. It's the period of the birth of Irish nationalism and the rise of the Fenians and the Irish Brotherhood A series of violent murders erupts in the city, each with a mysterious calling card left. Riots and a bombing also are going on. Are they related? What do they have to do with Ardara Ireland? How is Father O'Brian involved?

This is an excellently written period novel! Ms. Meredith's research is fantastic! You have the burgeoning new field of forensics, the powdered keg of the times following the famine, the widespread drug use of the time, a cholera outbreak, an early Scotland Yard. What more could you want?

The sheer force of the ugliness of the time, the poverty, the disease, the filth, the opium abuse of this time comes across vividly in this novel. At first I didn't really like it. It certainly doesn't take you to a lovely, gentle English countryside! The Scotland Yard Inspector was a despicable, ugly, drug addict that really turned my stomach. It took me a while to get attached to Dr. Hatton, but somehow slowly as I read he did wheedle his way in! I ended up really enjoying this book and wanting to read more. I highly recommend it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping from start to finish March 26, 2012
By Simon
I love it when you are committed to a book from the first page. Wonderful storytelling interlaced with fascinating research about Victorian London, forensics and the Irish issues of the day. I like it when nuggets of historical information reach you through well drawn characters, great dialogue and a compelling tale - the fun of learning without the pain of wading through non fiction. The unfolding plot kept me guessing until the end and I was sad to put my copy down at the end. So bring on the next Meredith because I need to get back to the murky underworld of Victorian London and follow the path of forensics as it grows and develops.
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5.0 out of 5 stars worth waiting for.................... March 14, 2012
After really enjoying Meredith's first novel Devoured I was eagerly waiting for the second in the series - and was not disappointed. The Devil's Ribbon was actually even better than her first and had me gripped from the start - the images that Meredith conjours up from her first para immediately transports you to the dark eery streets of London in 1858 and had me hooked from there. This is another clever novel, giving the reader a fantastic amount of detail but written in a truly compelling way - you can feel how deeply she has researched this to portray the reality of the era - the characters are fascinating and real and the plot unfolds brilliantly. More please!
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The Devil's Ribbon is a dark, page-turning mystery of epic proportions. It's written with such masterful authority that one questions if reading a work of fiction. Meredith's Victorian London is brought to life with all it's prejudices, squalor and casual atrocities as viewed by the fabulously paired forensic duo Hatton and Roumande. I adore the sensitive Hatton, the genuine kindness of Roumande and their ever-evolving 'who's the teacher, who's the student?' relationship. Bring on the next book!!

As a quick aside, my daughter came home from school the other day after learning about the famine and I was able to answer her questions about the Irish cholera boats to North America with what I had gleaned from this book. Result!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating...
Classy cabal of characters which had me hooked from the outset, the plot slowly revealing itself until the atmospheric finale. Read more
Published on March 9, 2012 by Mr. M. Ogborn
4.0 out of 5 stars Sharp characters in a gothic tale
D E Meredith's latest (see Devoured for more from the same) is another tale of murder and mystery unpicked by the proto-pathologists Hatton and Roumande. Read more
Published on March 9, 2012 by nicky north
5.0 out of 5 stars Historic mystery with pace
Having enjoyed the author's first novel I needed little encouragement to read her second and was not disappointed. Read more
Published on February 8, 2012 by Byron
5.0 out of 5 stars Cholera, Irish Terrorists and a Ghastly Serial Killer Plague 1858's...
Within the poverty stricken rookeries of the Irish community, the corpses of cholera victims are being found and taken to the morgue at St. Bart's Hospital. Read more
Published on January 11, 2012 by J. B. Hoyos
4.0 out of 5 stars The Devil's Ribbon
Green, the symbol of Irish pride and a symbol of Irish rebellion-this is what forensic scientist and doctor Adolphus Hatton is thinking when he pulls a green ribbon from the mouth... Read more
Published on November 20, 2011 by Anne
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply twisted tale of intrigue, politics and death
Meredith has done it again with this deeply disturbing tale, set in the festering heat of a suffocating summer in Victorian London, where, around the anniversary of the siege of... Read more
Published on November 16, 2011 by Sidi
5.0 out of 5 stars Move Over Doyle
D.E. Meredith has come onto the literary scene wielding Hatton and Roumande. Sherlockian fans will be happy to note that the well has not dried up in this genre. Read more
Published on November 8, 2011 by M. Hovermale
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