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The Murder of Harriet Monckton

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Longlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association Gold Crown Award, 2019

The Times 100 Best Books for Summer

Waterstones 2019 Essential Summer Reads

From the award-winning and best-selling author of Into the Darkest Corner comes a delicious Victorian crime novel based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation.  

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, is found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent. 

The community is appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the surgeon reports that Harriet was around six months pregnant.  

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final hours through the eyes of those closest to her and the last people to see her alive. Her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover - all are suspects; each has a reason to want her dead.  

Brimming with lust, mistrust and guilt, The Murder of Harriet Monckton is a master class of suspense from one of our greatest crime writers.

©2018 Elizabeth Haynes (P)2018 Audible, Ltd


"Haynes tells much of the story through the voices of those closest to Harriet: the hypocritical minister who mistakes his own desires for the wishes of God; the shy young man who wishes to look after her; the fellow teacher with her own yearnings for love. Eventually, through a diary, we hear Harriet herself speak. A thoroughly absorbing whodunnit, with an unexpected conclusion, Haynes’s novel is also a touching portrait of a young woman unjustly stigmatised by the prejudices of the day." (Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times)

"Actual documents from Britain’s National Archives concerning inquests into the November 1843 demise of Harriet Monckton, an unmarried, secretly pregnant 23-year-old teacher, serve as the springboard for this rich psychological crime novel from Haynes (Never Alone). The author weaves together snippets of testimony from the official investigation in Bromley, Kent, with fictionalized accounts from several of the key figures in Harriet’s life—and suspects in her death — among them the charismatic but deeply flawed Rev. George Verrall; fellow schoolmarm and discreetly infatuated best friend Frances Williams; former lover Richard Field; and handsome Thomas Churcher, the kindhearted cobbler too shy to declare his love. Readers also hear from Harriet herself, via a (fictional) 120-page diary. Though this suspenseful account of a case that remained unsolved in real life — unlike the novel — feels overlong, Haynes vividly brings to life an intellectually curious, vibrant young woman ill-suited to the strictures of Victorian village life. Historical mystery fans will be rewarded." (Publishers Weekly)

"Probably the best historical crime novel I have ever read. Elizabeth Haynes’ skill as a writer was in every word of every page; not once did I doubt that I was in Bromley in 1843. The characters were superb: villains, lovers, friends and Harriet herself were so well-formed with distinctive voices. The mystery was gripping and I was thrilled to discover I’d guessed the murderer wrong. Haynes passion for Harriet’s story (it's based on a real crime) is the life blood of this book and I found the Afterward about the author’s research very touching. Captivating, masterful and moving this is one book—and one death—I will remember for a very long time." (C. L. Taylor)

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