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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

‘Dark River Melody’ by M D Murphy

Published by Cutting Edge Press,
7 May 2015.
ISBN: 978-1908122636

London, 1799. Tom Godsey, revolutionary pamphleteer, has returned from seven years transportation to look for Eileen, the love of his life. The moment he sets foot ashore, he makes vicious enemies ...

This richly-written novel brings a darker eighteenth-century world to life: not the familiar china shepherdesses, but the world of the poor, a struggling realm of smoke, mud, cold, inhabited by thugs and whores, yet with more human kindness in their poverty than we see in the aristocratic world glimpsed in the novel. The streets are frozen with cold and roamed by the Press Gang. The novel opens with Tom’s return, and after his first encounters with his adverseries, the slavers and the intimidating psychopath Mr Sticks, there is a long flashback section in which we are shown the revolutionary ideals of Thomas Paine and his companions, encouraged by the newly broken-out French Revolution. We sympathise with Tom Godsey’s egalitarian ideals, fuelled by his mud-lark childhood – his parents scoured the banks of the Thames with each tide for items they could sell, and his mother never owned a pair of shoes. The book then moves to Eileen, and we are shown her childhood with her father and her initial contact with Mary Wollstonecroft, which makes her feminism credible. The action then speeds up, with Mr Sticks close on Tom’s trail. The chase sequences are breathless, the violence unsettling, and the ending satisfactory; it’s an adult version of the under-rated Leon Garfield’s Georgian world, told in a series of carefully crafted images.

A violent romance or a tender crime novel, this unusual and poetic re-creation of the late eighteenth century will linger in your imagination.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

M.D. Murphy works as an editor. His poetry has appeared in many publications, including Staple and Poetry Ireland Review. Dark River Melody is his first novel. comes from the London-Irish community. He has a PhD in English Literature from Lancaster University. His academic essays have been published in The Coleridge Bulletin and Romanticism

 Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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