Bernard Cornwell must enjoy writing historical novels. This was set around the 1800’s when hanging was commonplace and justice was, despite best intentions, flawed. Thus a retired army Captain and disgraced gentleman (following his fathers bankruptcy) is given the task of investigating the crime of an already condemned man. Following a trial, the legal system believes the man guilty of murder. Captain Rider Sandman is asked to investigate and confirm this because the man’s mother appeals to the queen that he is innocent. We follow Sandman for 7 days as he, despite his original expectation of the mans guilt, discovers his innocence and attempts to report this to the home secretary so a pardon may be issued before the hanging.
Once again I was captured by the detail painted of the time. The way the prison worked and how people were kept, the language and slang (known as ‘flash’) used in the pubs and between the lower classes. The gentleman’s game of cricket, the rules slowly changing (noticing the difference between cricket in the countryside and cricket in the city), the gambling and corruption and so many other things that made the story come to life.