Elizabeth Haynes
Also by this author

The Murder of Harriet Monckton

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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

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.

Waterstones

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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Bookbound

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

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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C.L.Taylor

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.

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