review by Maryom
London in July 1858 is on the verge of a cholera epidemic but the latest corpse brought to the morgue run by forensic scientist Adolphus Hatton didn't die of natural causes. The victim is the first of a series of seemingly unconnected murders - the only link being the leaving of a bright green ribbon on or about the corpse. Inspector grey of Scotland Yard believes this points indisputably to one of Irish Fenian groups, intent on self-rule, who have adopted this as a symbol. Grey anticipates violence, possibly bombings, from them as their campaign for independence heats up. Hatton and his assistant Roumande believe the motive must be something less obvious and more personal. Can their pioneering forensic work lead them to the murderer in time to avoid more victims?
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 - in Hatton's case, one for beautiful women! I didn't find the Scotland Yard detective, Grey, and side-kick Tescalini to be as well 'fleshed out' and their relationship certainly puzzled me at times, but this wasn't really detrimental to the story as a whole.
If you're looking for something a little different in crime fiction, The Devil's Ribbon is certainly a book to try. Even if, as I did, you can guess "whodunnit" before the end, it's still a readable, enjoyable story full of historical detail and horror.
Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Allison & Busby
Genre - adult, crime/thriller, historical fiction
Buy The Devil's Ribbon (Hatton & Roumande) from Amazon