‘The main character is a Bow Street Runner who is investigating three brutal murders in St Giles, London. He crosses powerful people, ends up in Newgate prison heading for the gallows, has the help of a headstrong aristocratic beauty . . . A story of high intrigue and low politics, brutal murder and cunning conspiracies . . . Tangy and rambunctious stuff ’

Peter Guttridge, Observer

‘The novel drips with all the atmospheric detail of a pre-Victorian murder mystery - “pea soupers”, dingy lanterns and laudanum’

John Cooper, The Times

‘Pyke is violent, vengeful and conflicted in the best tradition of detectives. His story takes in grisly murder and torture, and uses 1800s London in the same way that hard-boiled fiction uses Los Angeles as a mirror of a corrupt society’

Jerome de Groot, Time Out

‘This is an excellent, atmospheric mystery . . . it is the character of Pyke that is of greatest interest. I struggle to find anyone to compare with him, with the possible exception of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley. He is an anti-hero who intends to prove his innocence at whatever cost. But his acts can be heroic - and there is no lack of morality in the book. The final chapter hints at the impact of some of the compromises made. I can’t wait for the sequel’ Crimesquad.com

‘This excellent debut . . . is the first of a promised series, and Andrew Pepper and Pyke both deserve to be watched out for’

Toronto Globe and Mail

‘Gripping and atmospheric’

Daily Express

‘He creates a vision of London for 1829 so atmospheric that it is almost possible to feel the fog enveloping your face, to smell the stench from the gutters and feel the danger in the rookeries’

Material Witness

Andrew Pepper lives in Belfast where he is a lecturer in English at Queen’s University. The Last Days of Newgate is his first novel.

The Last Days of Newgate


For Debbie

The gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that a man who neglects what is actually done for what should be done learns the way to self-destruction rather than self-preservation.



London, England FEBRUARY 1829


A metallic glint preceded the thrust of a knife blade, as a voice, a female voice, shouted his name.


It may have saved his life.

The blade drew blood on his neck, a nick rather than a wound, and, turning like a whip, he stared into the hate-filled eyes of his attacker. Michael Flynn lunged at him again but this time he swayed backwards and avoided the blade’s arching loop, steadying himself before taking a grip of the Irishman’s wrist and snapping it sideways in a clean jerk that may well have broken bone. Flynn’s shriek confirmed his pain and, more importantly for Pyke, the knife clattered harmlessly on to the taproom’s sawdusted floor. Pyke released his assailant’s limp wrist and surveyed the mass of hostile faces assembled in the taproom of the Blue Dog tavern. He saw the back of her bonnet, bobbing as she hurried for the door, but she was too far away to be stopped. Later, he could not be sure he had not seen her face as well, but no clear image lodged in his mind. Momentarily he considered going after her, but he had more pressing issues to address. Though wounded, Flynn remained a dangerous adversary and Pyke wasted no time in retrieving the knife from the floor and pressing the blade against the receiver’s throat. His fee for sending his former associate to certain death on the gallows would be a mere ten guineas. It would have made practical sense to slit the man’s throat in the alley outside the tavern and leave him for the resurrectionists but, whatever else he was, Pyke was not an assassin.

Instead he delivered the papist thief to his Bow Street offices and roughly pushed him into the felons’ room, ignoring the man’s threats to expose him.

It may have seemed incongruous, to some, that, only a few hours later, Pyke was being transported in an open carriage through the manicured grounds of an English aristocrat whose wife had claimed ancestry with the first earl of Essex, but he was neither amused nor unsettled by having to move between different worlds. Nor was he concerned by the inequalities such a difference drew attention to. He would leave such thoughts to the politicians: the blustering Whig aristocrats who spoke about freedom and responsibility in public and abused their servants in private, and Tory landowners who cared nothing about the hardships their wealth and privilege created for others.

Pyke had no time for radical sentiment, nor was he what one might call a monarchist. But he managed to

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