The London Monster
Thomas Hayes, having lost his mother in a vicious street assault, becomes an underground pugilist on a mission to rid the streets of violent criminals. But his vigilante actions lead to him being mistaken for the most terrifying criminal of all.
Assistance arrives in the form of Sophie Carlisle, a young journalist with dreams of covering a big story, though she is forced to masquerade as a man to do it. Trapped in an engagement to a man she doesn’t love, Sophie yearns to break free to tell stories that matter about London’s darker side—gaming, prostitution, violence—and realizes Tom could be the one to help. Together, they come up with a plan.
Straddling the line between his need for vengeance and the need to hide his true identity as a politician's son becomes increasingly difficult as Tom is pressured to win more fights. The more he wins, the more notoriety he receives, and the greater the chance his identity may be exposed—a revelation that could jeopardize his father’s political aspirations and destroy his family’s reputation.
Sophie is also in danger as hysteria spreads and the attacks increase in severity and frequency. No one knows who to trust, and no one is safe—Tom included, yet he refuses to end the hunt.
Little does he realize, the monster is also hunting him.
Book Title: The London Monster
Author: Donna Scott
Publication Date: 21st November 2020
Publisher: Atlantic Publishing
Page Length: 322 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Mystery
You can purchase a copy of the book via -
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08M4D6T9N
Now for the excerpt -
I have little patience for misinformation. First of all, I did not attack a Miss Kitty Wheeler in the Ranelagh pleasure garden. I only whispered some indelicacies in her ear. There were far too many people meandering about on that enchanted summer night, so I would never have been so reckless as to draw my knife. I am not a fool, after all.
But the papers always manage to get it wrong. Or perhaps it’s the women. I have been described as a thin, vulgar-looking man with ugly legs and feet. How would they know the true nature of my legs and feet? Do I go about without stockings and shoes? I think not! Some accounts describe me as short with a villainous, narrow face, yet others paint me as a small, big-nosed man with curly hair, a tall man of regular features, or foreign-looking with a dark complexion. I have been said to wear all-black clothing, a brown greatcoat and striped waistcoat, or a blue silk coat with ruffled details and blue and white stockings. They say I have long slicked hair, plaited behind and turned up, or loose curls and a round or cocked hat with or without a cockade. Essentially, I look like everyone or no one at all.
The Morning Chronicle has often referred to me as a ‘miscreant’ or a ‘wretch’. The Oracle is less judgmental and therefore uses terms like ‘attacker’ and ‘perpetrator’. But the World is the most accurate of the papers, for it portrays the women as the real monsters. They are the ones whose histrionics and featherbrained ways have placed all men in danger, for any innocent man can be accused of being me with one wrong look or harmless suggestion.
And that is how I do it. First, with a kind word or two, and then with a proposition. The circumstances—whether the object of my affection sways her hips when she walks or strides forward with impatience and arrogance—will determine how I choose my words. The lady who entertains me first with the rhythmic swish of her skirts as I follow behind her will always get the kinder introduction. Perhaps a compliment before I express my true wishes. But it is the haughty jilt who will take the brunt of it. I might whisper a vulgarity in her delicate pink ear, comment on my growing arousal or the bounce of her breasts. What brings me the most pleasure is that first gasp, the initial moment of shock which registers in her raised brow and parted lips, a sure sign I have offended. After that, it is not exactly pleasure I feel, but anger that burns my chest—a building rage. Every desire I’ve ever had spills freely from my tongue and coats her like the soot on a hearth’s bricks. She might fight to get away—most of them do—but I am stronger, faster. And it is only then that I draw my blade.
Newgate Prison, London
Even as he stood atop the wooden cart with his hands bound and a rope around his neck, Thomas Hayes didn’t regret what he had done. Only three people knew the truth of it, of course—the lady involved, her assailant, and him. But without the victim coming forth, no one would believe Tom’s pleas of innocence.
Behind him, a chandler stirred the boiling tallow that was meant to cover Tom’s dead body when the deed was done. The unpleasant odour of rancid lard filled his nostrils, yet strangely made him awfully hungry at the same time. He should have been hanged in the morning, but as the hours passed and no one came to retrieve him, he thought they’d reconsidered and decided the best way of death would be from starvation. He hadn’t eaten in two days, either because his gaolers forgot to feed him or because they simply thought it unnecessary. Either way, his mouth watered and stomach growled in what was to be the last day of his two and twenty years of life.
He imagined his father’s expression when he finally read the news from the Morning Herald or the Public Ledger: Son of Candidate Joseph Hayes Hanged at Newgate for Attempted Murder. His father’s face would drop into his hands, his head shaking with disappointment, and his dreams of becoming a member of the House of Commons turning to ash with each blazing written word.
The two men awaiting execution to Tom’s left mumbled their prayers. Tom had said his that morning as he took the sacrament from the chaplain, having satisfied the man’s religious estimation that he was truly repentant. But he wasn’t. He’d do it all again if presented with the same circumstances.
The gibbet stood only a foot higher than his head, and the ground little more than three feet below him. He wore the same clothes he had been wearing the night he had attended the party at Apsley House, and knew with certainty that had his brothers been informed of his fate—another reason to curse him for ruining their family name—they would purchase his clothing and shoes back from the executioner once he was hanged. They were plain but beautifully made, his coat and breeches of the finest worsted wool and his shirt of white linen, now stained from weeks lying on the dirt floor of his cell. Sadly, his recently purchased cocked hat was nowhere to be found. The two men beside him were less formally dressed, both in crudely made hemp clothing, their brown forms slumped and feeble. From the look on the spectators’ faces, he knew that he stood out like a peacock on parade.
The constable beside him nodded, and the executioner covered Tom’s bare head and face with a coarse white linen sack. “There you go, lad.”
The bag scratched the skin on the bridge of his nose, so he tried to wriggle it away as best he could, considering the rope pressed tightly against his throat. He was to be hanged in chains once he was declared dead—as were all felons, particularly those accused of attempted murder—and placed on display as carrion for nearby birds looking to feast on his remains. That part bothered him the most. He thanked God that his mother wasn’t alive to see it.
The crowd suddenly hushed, telling him he had only seconds left to live. He took a deep breath through his mouth to avoid the tallow stench and relaxed as much as he could. The sound of a bare hand slapping the horse’s hindquarters, then the jingling of its tack registered in his mind as the last sounds he would ever hear. The cart below him shifted forward, and he stumbled to stay atop, but the flooring disappeared and the noose jerked him upright unforgivingly. It was the last thing he remembered.
Donna Scott is an award-winning author of 17th and 18th century historical fiction. Before embarking on a writing career, she spent her time in the world of academia. She earned her BA in English from the University of Miami and her MS and EdD (ABD) from Florida International University. She has two sons and lives in sunny South Florida with her husband. Her first novel, Shame the Devil, received the first place Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction and a Best Book designation from Chanticleer International Book Reviews.
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