'Just brilliant.' DONAL RYAN 'An exceptionally good book.' C. J. SANSOM
1816 was the year without a summer. A rare climatic event has brought frost to July, and a lingering fog casts a pall over a Dublin stirred by zealotry and civil unrest, torn between evangelical and rationalist dogma.
Amid the disquiet, a young nursemaid in a pious household conceals a pregnancy and then murders her newborn. Rumours swirl about the identity of the child’s father, but before an inquest can be held, the maid is found dead. When Abigail Lawless, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Dublin's coroner, by chance discovers a message from the maid’s seducer, she is drawn into a world of hidden meanings and deceit.
An only child, Abigail has been raised amid the books and instruments of her father’s grim profession. Pushing against the restrictions society places on a girl her age, she pursues an increasingly dangerous investigation. As she leads us through dissection rooms and dead houses, Gothic churches and elegant ballrooms, a sinister figure watches from the shadows - an individual she believes has already killed twice, and is waiting to kill again...
Determined, resourceful and intuitive, Abigail Lawless emerges as a memorable young sleuth operating at the dawn of forensic science.
Dublin, 1841. On a cold December morning, a small boy is enticed away from his mother and his throat savagely cut. This could be just one more small, sad death in a city riven by poverty, inequality and political unrest, but this killing causes a public outcry. For it appears the culprit – a feckless student named John Delahunt – is also an informant for the authorities at Dublin Castle. And strangely, this young man seems neither to regret what he did nor fear his punishment. Indeed, as he awaits the hangman in his cell in Kilmainham Gaol, John Delahunt decides to tell his story in this, his final, deeply unsettling statement . . .
Based on true events that convulsed Victorian Ireland, The Convictions of John Delahunt is the tragic tale of a man who betrays his family, his friends, his society and, ultimately, himself. Set amidst Dublin’s taverns, tenements, courtrooms and alleyways and with its rich, Dickensian cast of characters, this compelling, at times darkly humorous, novel brilliantly evokes a time and a place, and introduces a remarkable new literary voice.
Born in Co. Wexford, ANDREW HUGHES was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. A qualified archivist, he worked for RTE before going freelance. It was while researching his acclaimed social history of Fitzwilliam Square – Lives Less Ordinary: Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Square, 1798-1922 – that he first came across the true story of John Delahunt that inspired his debut novel, The Convictions of John Delahunt.
Andrew Hughes lives in Dublin.