Elizabeth Haynes
Also by this author

The Murder of Harriet Monckton

£8.99 Buy now Recommend

Shortlisted   —Thrill Zone, Best Translated Thriller for the Dutch Edition2020

Longlisted   —Historical Writers’ Association Gold Crown2019

‘A thoroughly absorbing whodunnit... also a touching portrait of a young woman unjustly stigmatised by the prejudices of her day.’—Sunday Times

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The Times 100 Best Books for Summer
Waterstones 2019 Essentials
Karen’s Reads 2020 Favourite Books

From the award-winning and bestselling 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 masterclass of suspense from one of our greatest crime writers.

Elizabeth Haynes is also the author of Into the Darkest Corner, Revenge of the Tide, Human Remains and Never Alone.

Just Another Book Nerd - The Readers Board, Bookstagrammer

3 February 2021

I love picking up books that are based on true stories. For me it adds another layer of mystique, which makes me think: wow, did this actually happen? It’s even weirder when the book is based in the city you live in because then the imagination runs wild! 🔥✨

I read this one a while ago and it did take me a while to get through it (it’s a pretty fat book lol) but it was an interesting read because the author did research the actual case and she provides some background into the real story. While of course some details are embellished or changed, Haynes gives an explanation of everything she’s changed and why she’s done that!

While it’s not my favourite, it was still an interesting read. So if you love period mysteries then give this one a go! 💫📚

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Anita - Miru Reads, Bookstagrammer

3 February 2021

Bought last time I was back in the UK (when will I get there again?!?) and chosen, not just by the blurb on the cover, but for the map at the beginning! Bromley in 1843! I blame Milly Molly Mandy for my love of a storybook map.

Elizabeth Haynes has come up with a possible solution to an unsolved Victorian murder and it all seems perfectly plausible.

There was not much documentation for the author to work with but enough to be intriguing and to suggest that those in Harriet’s life had something to cover up.

Double standards, inequality, hypocrisy, poison (and a map!) - a great read.

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4/5 Star Review by Esmea Lila, Bookstagrammer

29 January 2021

I read this over lockdown but I loved it! I found it so interesting as it is based on a real murder that was never solved. The characters were so believable and I love stories where the protagonist never talks (similar to The Vegetarian by Han Kang)🍎🥬 I'm definitely keen to read one of Haynes' other book "Into the Darkest Corner"
I love a crime, especially in autumn, something about the red leaves makes me feel like murder 😅 The feminist aspect of this book was also brilliant, as it felt in keeping with the era it is set, but also you felt Harriet's determination throughout the things she faced!
I haven't had much time to read recently as I'm on my Yoga Teacher Training which is intense but excited to start my Masters, many literature modules have been chosen!!🧘🏼‍♀️📚
Sorry for the essay, thank you if you read this all 🥰🧡

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5/5 star review by Bookstagrammer, Karen's Reads

26 August 2020

I had heard about this book and had it my tbr for a while, but after hearing Elizabeth read from the documents that inspired the story at Virtual Noir At The Bar, it jumped right up my list!

A historical murder mystery told from several different perspectives and uncovers the tragic tale of Harriet who, while 7 months pregnant, was found murdered one morning in the grounds of her local church.

It is a fascinating tale even without knowing the story of its inception and it weaves so well it is easy to forget that it is based on a true story. After hearing the afterword from Elizabeth I can totally understand why she didn't want Harriet's story to be forgotten.

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Nina Loves to Read, bookstagrammer

8 July 2020

June’s book club choice! Based on a true story and set in my home town, I was fascinated by reference to Bromley during the 1840. Lots of historical reference and an insight into beliefs and procedures during this time. The original incident however, was never solved but #elizabethhaynes brought it all together really well. Book 27/2020 - 7/10. #themurderofharrietmonckton #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #bookrecommendations #bookcommunity #bookclub #bookgram #booklove

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Incandescently Bookish, bookstagram

27 May 2020

This book is SO good!! it’s a fairly recent read but it was absolutely incredible. it’s a fictionalised version of an unsolved true crime case set in Victorian England and has most chapters set up as a chapter per day following the incident, with characters switching POV to give their own side of the day. It was a really interesting reading experience and I haven’t read a book set out quite like it before and it had so many twists and turns that i didn’t see coming! can’t recommend this book enough🥰

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Recommended Reading, Patricia's Wisdom

31 March 2020

THE MURDER OF HARRIET MONCKTON: An Historic Crime Novel ~Elizabeth Haynes

THE MURDER OF HARRIET MONCKTON is a Victorian crime novel based on a real murder. It is full of lust, mistrust, and guilt and is a masterclass of suspense from an enormously popular mystery writer.

I could hardly put the book down and wish this cold case could be re-examined in light of today’s technology.

“It’s hard to put the uniqueness of Elizabeth Haynes’ writing into words.  Her stories grip you by the throat and force you to acknowledge that this is what real crime and real horror look and feel like, as well as real love, hope, fear.  Haynes is the most exciting thing to happen to crime fiction in a long time.”  (Sophie Hannah, cover)

November 1843, 23-year-old Harriet Monckton was found murdered behind the chapel she regularly attended in her town in England.  The murder both shocked and fascinated the country.  It was apparently the result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and the autopsy reveals that Harriet was almost six months pregnant.  No one was ever arrested or tried for it, and Haynes felt a desperate sense of injustice for Harriet and for her unborn child.  Hayes did extensive research in the national Archives and drew on the original coroner’s reports from inquests and witness testimonies from the time.  She builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final days as seen through the eyes of those closest to her; her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, and her former landlord and lover.  All are suspects.  Each one has a reason to want her dead.

Elizabeth Haynes is a former police intelligence analyst.  Her first novel, INTO THE DARKEST CORNER, has been published in 37 countries.  It was Amazon’s Best Book of the year and NEW YORK TIMES bestseller.  She has written a further three psychological thrillers – REVENGE OF THE TIDE, HUMAN REMAINS, and NEVER ALONE – and two novels in the DCI Louisa Smith series, UNDER THE SILENT MOON and BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. (cover)

I was so excited about having another opportunity to read Haynes writing because I reviewed NEVER ALONE and was spellbound by her storytelling and the detail – not to mention being spellbound by the suspense she creates.

Once A Liar
Never Alone
Lie To Me


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Kirsten Hannum, Historical Novel Society

12 March 2020

This classic tale drops you straight into 1843, the early Victorian era, when unmarried women evidently became pregnant on their own. Men, even the most rapacious employers, felt themselves no more than aggrieved bystanders when the maid or acquaintance they’d shared sex with became pregnant. The author makes this attitude a living character in the novel, a malevolent force partly responsible for Harriet’s real murder.

The author, Elizabeth Haynes, writes contemporary procedural mystery/thrillers that garner good reviews for their realism and plotting. She reveals in her afterword that, while researching another book, she had stumbled upon a couple documents about Harriet Monckton, a pregnant 23-year-old murdered in Bromley, on the outskirts of London, in 1843. It’s hard to imagine another author better suited to write this convincing, atmospheric, frustrating, and compelling story. It’s written from the alternating points of view of the men that the investigators suspect: Harriet’s seductive former London landlord; the pompous, self-righteous and adulterous minister of the chapel where Harriet attended services; and the naïve, tongue-tied young townsman who fell in love with her. There’s also, thankfully, the clear-thinking voice of Frances Williams, Harriet’s friend and fellow teacher, who prefers the company of women. And yet the reader is drawn to suspect even Frances because of her unrequited love for Harriet.

Haynes brilliantly allows the reader into the innermost thoughts of all these characters, each guilty in their own way, and yet keeps the satisfying secret of who the poisoner was unrevealed until the very end. Recommended.

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Publishers Weekly

12 March 2020

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.

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John Cleal, Crime Review

12 March 2020

Elizabeth Haynes, a former police intelligence analyst, applies all her knowledge to recreate one the most baffling and talked-about murder mysteries of Victorian times which both shocked and fascinated a nation.

No one was ever arrested or charged, despite an intensive police inquiry, with detectives specially drafted in from London, and a near three-year long, often postponed inquest, which split opinion and caused endless rumour and suspicion in the Kent town. The jury eventually returned the inevitable verdict of murder, by person or persons unknown, but the coroner had his own ideas of guilt.

On November 7 1843, 23-year-old Harriet Monckton, a woman of respectable upbringing and religious habits, was found dead in the privy behind the dissenting chapel where she was a regular attendee. The townspeople were at first appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing prussic acid – and even more shocked when an autopsy revealed that the unmarried Harriet was almost six months pregnant. But as the inquest drags on and initial fear of a killer on the loose subsides, the town begins to fall apart in a welter of suspicion, speculation and malicious gossip.

Drawing on the original coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Haynes builds a realistically compelling picture of Harriet’s final days through the eyes of those closest to her and the last to see her alive.

Her inspirational, but cynical fellow teacher and companion, the lesbian proto-feminist Frances Williams; her sincere, but tongue-tied would-be fiancé Tom Churcher; the inspirational demagogue dissenting preacher George Verral, who confuses God’s love with his own insatiable sex drive; and her former landlord and first lover Richard Field are the principal witnesses – and suspects. Each has their own reasons to want her dead and each has a secret they want to hide. Haynes offers a masterclass of suspense as she tells the story of the two very separate lives of Harriet from their point of view, plus the dead girl’s own tale through her diary.

This colourful cast, supported by some of the local characters, the pompous, the plain gossipy and those with various axes to grind, an imaginative plot and dialogue and brilliant descriptive settings bring Victorian Bromley to vibrant life.

The book is captivating, masterful and moving, and you simply will find it difficult to put down. Haynes’ passion for Harriet’s story, explained in a touching afterword detailing her research, makes a fitting conclusion to a truly gripping and memorable piece of historical true crime/fiction that’s full of lust, mistrust and guilt.

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A Bookish Type

12 March 2020

Elizabeth Haynes took her inspiration for The Murder of Harriet Monckton from actual historical documents about an unsolved murder from 1843. Haynes scoured archives to try and find out if the case was ever solved. It wasn’t, but Haynes uses all of the available information about the crime scene and the suspects to create a solution to Harriet’s murder. She does an absolutely incredible job of taking the scant information gleaned from newspapers, court documents, and letters to bring Bromley of 1843 back to life. This book is an amazing piece of historical fiction; Haynes definitely shows us how to do this right. Seriously, the talent on display in this book floored me.

Three narrators tell their stories, all drawn from the available documents, but brought back to full life by Haynes’ imagination. There’s George Verrall, the preacher of a flock of Congregationalists, who has more than one secret he’s hiding. Then there’s Tom Churcher, who loved Harriet but was never able to tell her. And, lastly, there’s Frances Williams. Frances is a “spinster” teacher who, like the other two narrators, is in love with Harriet. That love is very different for each, however. Tom’s love seems the purest; he simply loves Harriet for who she is. Frances knows that Harriet doesn’t feel the same way, but she takes the bits of affection that she can as her friendship with Harriet develops. Verrall, though. It’s hard not to hate Verrall. The man is a terrible hypocrite. He claims to be a man of god, but he can only really get inspired if he has sex with a woman who is not his wife. Harriet was just the latest in a string of women Verrall has taken advantage of.

The historical record shows that, after Harriet’s body is found in the privy of Verrall’s chapel, Verrall was very involved in the coroner’s investigation. How can one not be suspicious of a man who shoves his way into a murder case and insists that victim committed suicide, when there isn’t a lot of evidence to support that conclusion? And yet, there isn’t a lot of physical evidence to definitively point to any culprit. No one found the bottle of Prussic acid that killed Harriet. Her body was moved after she died. This is well before DNA evidence and even fingerprinting. The coroner—and the London detectives who came along later—had to rely on witnesses. Sure, all of these witnesses swear to tell the truth and one would hope that they would. We readers know that these witnesses have all kinds of agendas that lead them to bend (or outright break) the truth. Churcher’s sister wants to protect her brother. Tom promised to keep other people’s secrets. George wants to keep his dirty secrets quiet. Frances wants to squelch the rumors about her relationship with Harriet. Absolutely no one wants to see what’s under the veneer of respectability in Bromley.

There are works of historical fiction that are hampered by their author’s reliance on documented facts. For example, Robert Harris’ An Officer and a Spy fizzles at the end because that’s what happened in the actual Dreyfus case. Because what really happened to Harriet Monckton is unknown—and because so much of her life remains a mystery—Haynes has the space to make a really exciting, interesting story. In her notes at the end, Haynes says that she wanted to tell Harriet’s story because the real Harriet never got justice for what happened to her. We’ll never know, not after so much time and so little documentation. But I feel that Haynes did Harriet right in The Murder of Harriet Monckton. Harriet has a voice after all these years.

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Jera's Jamboree

12 March 2020

Harriet, aged just 23 years old was found murdered on 7th November 1843. As I have always been intrigued by history and unsolved murder cases, I looked forward to starting this book.

Elizabeth Haynes has written the first part using sections narrated by several of the suspects; her fellow teacher Frances Williams, Thomas Churcher, the Reverend George Verrall and former lover, Richard Field.

This Victorian murder case has been written extremely well as each voice was clear and well thought out. Haynes take on the culprit was clever and became an excellent twist.

I especially enjoyed the section of Harriet’s journal as it was interesting to hear her side of the events.

I found this novel a wonderful dedication to this poor girl who lost her life at such a tragic young age.

A great read especially, if like me you enjoy both history and a murder mystery.

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Novel Deelights

12 March 2020

Wow, wow, wow! What an incredible novel this is!

This is one of those books I saw pass by on Twitter one day and, despite knowing very little about it, promptly decided I’d buy myself a copy. It took exactly one page for me to absolutely fall in love with the Victorian era atmosphere and the wonderful writing.

The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on a true story. In 1843, 23 year old Harriet Monckton was found murdered in a privy behind a chapel she had attended regularly. The autopsy revealed Harriet was six months pregnant and died due to ingesting prussic acid. Elizabeth Haynes compiled coroner’s reports and witness testimonies to tell Harriet’s story. The novel is told from various points of view by characters who all may have had reason to want Harriet gone from their lives. A former lover, a current lover, a wanna-be lover and a vile, despicable man hiding behind the cloak of piety.

This novel oozes atmosphere from the start, bringing not only the Victorian era to life but also delivering characters that are so realistic they almost jump from the page. It had me completely enthralled from start to finish and not only made me remember why I love historical fiction as much as I do but also re-awakened my sheer passion for reading. This is just plainly the kind of novel my inner bookworm dreams of and it delivered on every level.

My only tiny niggle is that I knew from the start that Harriet’s murder has never been solved. Like with any other murder mystery, I would have liked to have had the opportunity to figure things out on my own and decide on a suspect. It felt rather weird not to be quite able to do that since the killer was never caught. However, as luck would have it, I did actually end up with the same conclusion as the author came up with in her story so it’s not all bad. And none of it ruined my enjoyment of this wonderful novel. I have absolute no doubt this novel will end up in my list of favourite books of the year!

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Emma's Book Blog

12 March 2020

This book is a Victorian mystery, based on the actual murder of Harriet Monckton, a young primary school teacher from Bromley, Kent, who was found dead in November 1843 in the privy in the grounds of the chapel where she worshipped.

The novel begins with Harriet’s murder, and these wonderfully ominous opening lines:

Harriet is twenty-three, unmarried and six months pregnant.  She is deeply religious, but her desperation proves stronger than her faith.  Her killer offers her a way out of her predicament – a draft.

And it was – Death came swiftly to Harriet Monckton.  Her killer left her body in the grounds of Bromley’s dissenting chapel, to be discovered the following day by a small search party, who had been alerted to her disappearance.

Who would kill Harriet, and why? Elizabeth Haynes has used the original coroner’s reports from two inquests, witness testimonies and newspaper reports to create this wonderful novel which explores themes of power and abuse in relationships, which still ring true in 2019.  I loved how Haynes created the fiction around the facts, and how she slowly and expertly controlled the plot, peeling back the layers of deception and suspicion to create this wonderful novel.  Harriet was a young, free-spirited woman, who was attracted to older, powerful men.  Was this her downfall?

The novel is narrated in the first person by the four people who appeared to know her best, and who were all called to give evidence in her inquest.  A section is also given to Harriet’s diary, where we are finally granted access to her thoughts and actions in the months leading up to her murder.

Reverend George Verrall is the leader of the local dissenting church, and is respected and suspected by many in Bromley. He spends much of his energy trying to convince the jury and coroner that Harriet took her own life.  He knew she was pregnant, and there were rumours that he and Harriet were lovers.  A terrifying and shady character with a reputation to maintain.  Did he kill Harriet?

Tom Churcher discovered Harriet’s body and had been ‘walking out’ with her in the weeks before her death, despite being promised to local girl, Emma Milstead.  He was very much in love with Harriet and her death has affected his behaviour.  He did not know of her pregnancy until after her death – or so he claims.  Did he kill her for making a fool of him?  Or could it have been his fiancée Emma, who wanted Harriet out of the way?

Richard Field was a ‘respectable’ Londoner and Harriet’s former landlord when she was teaching in Hackney.  He was also her first lover, and someone she could not forget, especially as he had recently married Harriet’s close friend.  Harriet’s pregnancy threatens his newly established family.  Could this be a motive for murder?

Frances Williams is a fellow teacher, and close companion.  Her home provides a refuge for Harriet in Bromley.  It becomes clear that she has fallen in love with Harriet, and has secrets she would like to conceal from the community.

Haynes wonderful writing has has brought to life the four main suspects in the murder, but each one is hiding something.  Each narrator is equally unreliable, and will have you thinking you have worked out the murderer, only to realise moments later that you are wrong…again!

I was seething with anger and injustice for Harriet as I was drawn deeper into this tale of murder and dark secrets.  I know that this is a book that will stay with me for a long time.  If you love historical fiction set in Victorian England, or if you love true crime inspired books, or if you love a good ole’ ‘whodunnit’, you’ll get all of the above in this book.  You really MUST check out.

I loved it.

Thank you so much to Emma Dowson for my copy of this novel.

PS – I loved the map at the beginning detailing the setting, along with a list of the townsfolk.

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Waterstones Staff Pick: Clara Bow

12 March 2020

Based on an unsolved Victorian murder, this really will have you gripped from the very first page.

Haynes has made these people from the past feel very much alive and makes a compelling case to deliver the murderer to us.

I feel lost having finished this.

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Waterstones Staff Pick: Dan

12 March 2020

This story is based mostly on fact, Harriett Monckton’s murder has never been solved and Elizebeth Haynes has created an incredible tale of lust, deceit, double standards and hypocrisy all set to the backdrop of 1800’s Kent.

The detail is lavish and beautifully written. The story unfolds within the first few pages outlining that poor Harriett has died but was it self destruction or foul play? This who-done-it keeps you guessing at every turn. Many characters are likeable and relatable where as others are selfish and deceitful which I enjoyed reading as you hear the whole story unfold regarding Harriett from many different angles as half the town admired her but others thought less of her which I really enjoyed rather than just being one continuous story it was broken up by different people that really helped keep the pace fast and strong.
You also hear from Harriett herself eventually and you get even more depth to the story and the people within the pages. I must say by the end I was glad to see progress within the constant accusations between the townspeople and others.

If you enjoy a classic Victorian crime story this will set you right! Could she have gone through with it or did someone else turn their hand to her murder? Only one way to find out!

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Suspense Magazine

11 December 2019

There are many stories based on facts, but I have to say this is one of the most spine-tingling ones I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It was back in 1843, that the nation became fascinated with a young woman by the name of Harriet Monckton. Monckton, only twenty-three years old, was found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent.

Being that Harriet was from a respectable family and background, it was not a surprise that the entire community was absolutely horrified by her death. But what was even more hideous was the fact that the autopsy revealed that Harriet was six months pregnant when she died of poisoning.

Because no killer was ever found or punished for the crime, this author wrote her tale based on factual information so everyone could remember the fate of poor Harriet. Using flawless narration, the author draws data from coroner’s reports and court testimonies so that she can tell the tale from the personal viewpoints of each character; and all of these characters had a reason for wanting the woman to die. Harriet Monckton’s life was apparently very busy. Having at least three lovers, she was a true scandal for that time period. Many people were suspected of her murder, including her own close companion, Miss Frances Williams.

Readers will find themselves engrossed in the suggestions that are brought up by this author when it comes to a small town that looks a great deal like they were hiding secrets and guilt behind a veil of innocence. Small towns have a history of hypocrisy in novels, and this is one that will make you truly think of what can be hidden when people band together to conceal their most heinous actions.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Double-Edged Sword” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

Turnaround 2019 Fiction Staff Picks

11 December 2019

23-year-old Harriet Monckton is found dead on the 7th of November 1843 in the privy behind the dissenting chapel she attended. Her apparent murder is the subject of Elizabeth Haynes’ first dive into historical fiction, and what a story it is. There are many suspects among those who were closest to Harriet, and Haynes heaps on the tension through testimonies and coroner’s reports, building to an unforgettable conclusion, all the while painting a touching portrait of an unjustly maligned young woman, and lending rich authenticity to the world she inhabited. Incredibly suspenseful and brimming with meticulous detail, The Murder of Harriet Monckton is a masterclass of just how good historical fiction can be.

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Publishers Weekly

4 September 2019

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.

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4 August 2019

Taking inspiration from a real-life Victorian murder inquiry, Elizabeth Haynes twists the established facts in to a richly atmospheric crime thriller. Whilst the plotting is immensely skilful and the tension expertly exploited, it is the subtle gender politics and rounded characterisation that marks The Murder of Harriet Monckton out as a truly superior crime novel.

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17 July 2019

Historical fiction has always floated my boat. I love immersing myself in the past, particularly when the story in question is based on fact. And particularly where there are unanswered questions and room for interpretation. Give me a slow reveal of fact and supposition cleverly interwoven and I am in clover.

I also love a long book. The joy of finding a book that is skilfully put together and captivating is unbounded. Who doesn’t want a really great story to go on?

So I approached The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes with excited anticipation. Heartfelt thanks go to Emma Dowson at Myriad for my gifted copy.

I wasn’t disappointed; my reading experience was every bit as satisfying and enthralling as I had hoped.

Based on a true story Haynes takes us back to Bromley, 1843 and sets about unmasking the killer of Harriet Monckton. A young aspiring teacher Harriet is found dead in the privy at the back of her local Chapel, 24 hours after leaving a friends house to post a letter.

It is quickly established that Harriet has been poisoned but is this through her own hand or has she been murdered? The revelation that unmarried Harriet is ‘with child’ adds further complexity and intrigue.

As an inquest is called various potential suspects come to light. Haynes has used actual coroner’s reports and witness testimonies from the original case to paint a picture of both a life and community riddled with secrets, all touched by suspicion.

Could gentle Tom Churcher be Harriet’s killer? It was he who found the body and seems strangely affected by her death. Having been seen ‘walking out with’ Harriet, despite being unofficially betrothed to another, could this be a love affair turned sour?

What of his spurned sweetheart Emma? Is this a killing with is motives in jealousy and revenge?

Harriet’s friend and sometimes housemate Frances Williams cannot be discounted either. Why exactly has she become so close to the deceased and what would it cost her if the true nature of their relationship was disclosed?

And what does Richard Field, husband of a dear friend, know of Harriet’s death. As former landlord and clearly former lover he is quickly pulled into the circle of suspicion.

Finally and perhaps most chillingly, we must consider The Reverend George Verrall. Is his relationship one simply of spiritual guidance and confessor as he would have his followers believe, or is there a more sinister side to his relationship with Harriet ?

This, perhaps unsurprisingly is a story of secrets, of hidden facts and relationships build on half truths and lies. The plotting of this novel is skilful, layers of deception are slowly revealed as each character uses their own distinct voice to present their individual relationship with Harriet. For Harriet means different things to different people and this is key to our tale.

It is through these authentic voices we build a snap shot of a group of characters who are misunderstood not only by each other but by themselves. Working hard to justify their actions or, indeed, inactions there is a sense of self deception which permeates their testimonies.

Richard Field, for example, works hard to convince not only the reader but also himself that he is a dedicated family man, taking little or no responsibility for the pivotal role he played in Harriet’s life and undoing.

Rev. Verrall’s account aims for piety but smacks of desperation. His attempts to lead the inquest to a verdict of suicide make him all the more suspicious and frankly distasteful.

And this is a view that is enhanced and repeated through the use of Harriet’s diary. For crucially Harriet’s is not a voiceless victim in this story. The use of her own written testimony adds clarity, gives her character power but also brings into sharp focus one of the key strengths of this novel.

The abuse of power, both spirtual, sexual and financial power is behind Harriet’s sorry tale. For Harriet is not an uneducated women. Rather she is spirited, independent and eloquent. Her relationship with Richard Field was based on genuine feeling, it’s ending a moral sacrifice on her part for the sake of a dear friend.

Moreover her treatment at the hands of George Verrall is the classic abuse of power. Religious power and abuse masquerading as concern and correction, the sacrifice of one young woman for a greater male purpose. The weaving of deceit and concealment is all too common both in Harriet’s life time and our modern day society.

For the real genius of this novel lies in it’s ability to commentate on the treatment of women in the past, but make it relevant to society today. As a reader I couldn’t help but link the kind of abuse of power detailed so starkly with in these pages to the events of recent years; the #MeToo campaign and all its associated stories and movement. The situation Harriet faces is still something faced by women all over the world.

Elizabeth Haynes has employed to maximum effect the ability to look to the past to illuminate the lessons we are still learning today.

And what if the killer of Harriet Monckton? Well, you will find no spoilers here but as with everything else in this gem of a book, nothing is ever quite as it seems.

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The Pool

25 September 2018

Bestselling crime writer Elizabeth Haynes (Into The Darkest Corner) has turned her attention to an unsolved true Victorian crime: the discovery of the body of 23-year-old Harriet Monckton behind a chapel in Bromley, Kent. She was five or six months pregnant at the time and a number of people would have had motive for killing her: her closest friend, her would-be fiancé, her seducer and her former lover.

Haynes tells the story from the point of all four with painstaking detail—this an expertly crafted slow-burn of a novel, immersing you in the double standards of Victorian Bromley (yes, Market Square before McDonald’s and The Glades took hold, for those who know it). Harriet Monckton, by all accounts, was a vivacious, dynamic, sexually active unmarried woman—everything Victorian morality couldn’t cope with. And she suffered for it. Perfect autumn sofa fodder for an empty weekend.

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Off The Shelf Books

21 September 2018

The Murder of Harriet Monckton is exquisite - a haunting and compelling historical whodunnit. It's based on a Victorian crime, using original research materials to explore what happened to a young woman, Harriet Monckton, who was murdered with her unborn son.

Reading this book felt like reading the script of an Agatha Christie movie. The chapters switch from one character to the next and then back again, building up their layers, turning them into well-rounded and very real individuals. Elizabeth Haynes brings each character to life - Harriet's friends, family and other locals - exploring their possible motives, all being potential suspects with something to hide.

The Murder of Harriet Monckton is more than just a true crime murder mystery. It's a 'me too' story of the 1840s, a disturbing insight into the social expectations, naivety of young women and the importance of religion within communities. The story felt authentic from start to finish, thanks to meticulous research providing specific details in the descriptions of the characters, setting and social interactions of that era.

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Sarra Manning, Red Magazine

20 September 2018

Fans of The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher will also like this novelisation of a real-life murder that shocked the inhabitants of a small Kentish town. In 1843, Harriet Monckton’s body was found in a chapel privy, poisoned and pregnant. This novel follows Harriet’s final days as seen by the people closest to her, who may also have wanted her dead.

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Waterstones—staff pick: Emine

3 September 2018

Elizabeth Haynes has written a fantastic novel, using old documents relating to Harriet Monckton’s murder which happened in 1843 in Bromley.

Narrated by a colourful cast of characters and imaginative plot and dialogues, she was able to reconstruct the story of this cold case. She brings alive the Victorian era and Victorian Bromley alive.

You simply cannot put it down until the last page as you try to guess who the real culprit is amongst all the suspects. This fascinating story is a real page turner.

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15 August 2018

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.

Julia Crouch

30 July 2018

Elizabeth Haynes is one of the top storytellers in a genre bursting with the best tale-spinners in the world.

I wouldn’t normally turn to historical crime fiction, but Elizabeth’s unearthing and championing of Harriet Monckton’s case has changed my mind. She has charged it with compassion, wisdom and, crucially, a modern understanding of human nature and psychology.

The Murder of Harriet Monckton is a page-turning mystery, a parade of testimonies that gets you under the skin of the characters surrounding the real and terrible tragedy of poor Harriet Monckton.

It is also a #MeToo for the Victorian era—a humane defence of women of all eras who choose not to conform, who, within the confines of a highly circumscribed society, manage to make their own way. History is crowded with ‘fallen’ women like Harriet—victims of a cruel world stacked against female interests, experiences and biology.  However much they are ultimately made to suffer, their trailblazing is to be celebrated.

This is an important book, one which I just could not put down. If spirits exist, Harriet's will take some comfort knowing that Elizabeth Haynes has set her trained, empathetic, forensic eye to vindicate her.

The Bookbag

18 July 2018

The writing is exceptional: I spent much of the book in a state of visceral terror for Harriet... Haynes captures the age perfectly and she’s particularly good on the precarious life of the unmarried woman, virtuous or not... the plot has a sense of completeness about it and the ending blew me away: it just seemed so right. In real life the murder might remain unsolved, but Haynes’ solution is neat, realistic and entirely plausible. Perhaps the highest praise that I can give this book is to say that it won’t be too long before I reread to see how it was all done.

The Bookbag

10 June 2018

But that's just it, she said. It's not Harriet, is it? Not our Harriet. It's some manufactured creature, that exists only for this blessed inquest: something to be summed up like a spirit, to be examined and pored over, to be sneered at and judged. Harriet deserves to be remembered as she was to us, not picked at like carrion.

And that was the problem: it seemed that there were two Harriets. There was the one her friends knew—a fellow teacher, her would-be lover, her seducer and the man who was her landlord but who was also her lover. Some spoke of her as kindly, virtuous and pious, but that was before her body was found in the privy behind the chapel which she regularly attended in Bromley. She'd been poisoned—or had taken her own life, as some would prefer. After the inquest was opened another Harriet would emerge, one who was about six months pregnant and who had obviously not been living the chaste life expected of a young, unmarried woman in 1843.

I'd better begin by admitting to a couple of biases. I'm not a great reader of historical fiction, and historical crime in particular: the modern police procedural is where my heart lies. But when you receive a proof of a book by one of your favourite authors it’s easy to feel that you needn’t be quite so rigid about your preferences. I first encountered Elizabeth Haynes when I read Into The Darkest Corner more than seven years ago and I’ve recently become hooked on her DCI Louisa Smith books—Under A Silent Moon and Behind Closed Doors. I’ll confess that I was rather hoping for another in the series, but I was intrigued by the thought of an accomplished writer of police procedurals turning her hand to historical fiction where a completely different set of skills would be required.

I’ve always been impressed by the way that Haynes has us straight into the story in her police procedurals: The Murder of Harriet Monkton has more of a slow-burn start. Relax: take time to get to know the characters and appreciate the fact that they’re exquisitely drawn as there's no shortage of people who might have wanted Harriet dead. There’s Frances Williams, the schoolteacher. Harriet regarded her as a friend, but Frances’ feelings were rather stronger: if that became public knowledge her position as a schoolteacher would be in danger. The Reverend George Verrall appeared pious and virtuous, but his particular method of inspiring the holy spirit to enter his body would not have been appreciated by his parishioners should the facts become known. Thomas Churcher, a shoemaker, was apparently spoken for, but he’d given his heart to Harriet—the one person who didn’t think that he was slow-witted. Richard Field had been Harriet's landlord, but he’d seduced her when he’d already given his heart to another woman. Who murdered Harriet, and who was the father of her unborn child?

The writing is exceptional: I spent much of the book in a state of visceral terror for Harriet, not because of what would happen to her, but because of her situation whilst she was alive, as those who could have—should have—helped her refused to do so, usually with an entirely unwarranted sense of piety and righteousness. Her options were severely limited, with the workhouse being the only backstop. Haynes captures the age perfectly and she’s particularly good on the precarious life of the unmarried woman, virtuous or not.

A plot based on a true story can be too constrained and is usually all the more so when research has been done to the extent it's been done in this story. Haynes has taken some liberties with facts, but they’re relatively small and documented in the Afterword. Rather than being constrained the plot has a sense of completeness about it and the ending blew me away: it just seemed so right. In real life the murder might remain unsolved, but Haynes’ solution is neat, realistic and entirely plausible. Perhaps the highest praise that I can give this book is to say that it won't be too long before I reread to see how it was all done.

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Compulsive Readers

6 June 2018

My Review:  If you follow my reviews or are a member of THE Book Club then you will know that Elizabeth Haynes is one of my all time favourite authors and her debut book INTO THE DARKEST CORNER is, in my humble opinion, the BEST psychological thriller EVER.  So you can imagine my surprise, delight and excitement to receive one of the first advanced copy proofs of her new book THE MURDER OF HARRIET MONCKTON, especially as I didn’t even know she had written a new book!

I will admit to feeling slightly less excited when I realised this book was a “dramatic fictionalisation based on a true story from 1843”, as it’s not one of my preferred genres and was concerned I wouldn’t enjoy the story because of the genre.

How silly am I?  (Don’t answer that!).  The Murder of Harriet Monckton is absolutely BRILLIANT.  Firstly, you need to know that this book is based on a true story as the author chanced upon two documents whilst researching another book at the National Archives in London.  These documents were the correspondence between the coroner and the Home Secretary from December 1844 and from this Elizabeth Haynes interest was piqued and her research into what happened to Harriet Monckton has resulted in this fascinating story.

When you read the authors “Afterword” you realise how incredible this book really is, Elizabeth Haynes has created a story based on 2 documents and brought to life a wonderful array of characters, recreated a truly authentic Bromley and given a voice to an intriguing mystery surrounding the death of a young woman.

The story is narrated through several characters all connected to Harriet Monckton and each voice is plausible and authentic.  It was so easy to be drawn into their lives, feel their emotions and care about them.  I was transported instantly to a different era where women were struggling to be heard, men were respected regardless of their behaviour and religion was paramount to the well being of the community.

Highly recommended.

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The Book Whisperer, Bookstagram, 5/5 star review

⭐️ REVIEW ⭐️ 🕯The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on a true story of a 23 year old teacher who was found poisoned in a church yard in Bromley in 1843. Although the case was never actually solved, author Elizabeth Haynes has taken creative license using actual documents and archives about the case. What ensues is a shocking look at the hypocrisy and double standards of the day while delivering a bloody great whodunnit 🕯 Poor Harriet. Finally she has been given a voice though. 🕯 I can highly recommend this book 🕯 All the stars

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The Untrained Librarian, Bookstagrammer, 4/5 star review

Here we have a dramatic fictionalization of the unsolved murder of a 23 year old woman from Bromely, Kent. Taking place in 1843, this was a murder that shocked the small, tightly knit community into years of sleepless nights. To add to the intrigue, the autopsy reveals she was pregnant. The remainder of the story is speculation based on the author’s research as she recreates backstories of lovers, teachers, villains, and preachers. She reveals each of these characters and how they’re involved in Harriet’s life - all of whom may have a reason to want her dead. The novel is divided into three parts; the multi narrative perspectives during the initial discovery and investigation, the ongoing trial, and Harriet’s journal. I felt trial was slightly repetitive, but the twist at the end got me. Overall, an atmospheric and cosy Victorian mystery that also touches on many social issues and injustices that were common during this time period.

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