I had the bright idea of going to the Parramatta Female Factory and do a quick youtube review or even just an insta of this book BUT… it seems that it’s not actually open to the public. I checked out where it’s located and noted that I drove past this sandstone fence a lot but didn’t realise that this was where the Parramatta Female Factory was! I just thought it was a gaol and I supposed it was. I was very excited with this second instalment of The Monsarrat Series and this time, it is set in Parramatta which we know quite well; hubby worked there up for a number of year up til the end of last year.
Hugh Monsarrat is back from Port Macquarie with his second ticket of leave, a bit of money, and a position in the governer’s house albeit as a lowly clerk with a special talent (ie. his investigative skill). He now owns a house and has Mrs. Mulrooney installed in his kitchen though he would prefer to think of her as a friend. Their friendship, however, has its own unique dynamic. Hugh was keen also to resume his relationship with an old flame. Life never did run smooth as he is required to display his investigative forte.
The novel opens with a horrible man, Church, on the point of committing some atrocity upon the Factory inmates being gruesomely murdered; stabbed through the eye with an awl (yikes!). As this happened within the Factory’s confines in the middle of the night where none may enter, it must have been committed by one of the inmates. Grace O’Leary has been at the forefront of defiance against Church and so, she became the main and only suspect and will hang as soon as it is practicable. Hugh was detailed to take down witnesses’ testimonies and he was not convinced of her guilt yet who else could it be? Once more, he depended upon Mrs. Mulrooney’s assistance and sharp wit.
I loved the setting and I really loved the characters. The mystery I found rather wanting. There wasn’t, as far as I can see, a believable red herring, and after one particular incident earlier on, it became rather obvious who the murderer is though I didn’t figure out the reason. I also have learnt a lot of how women convicts lived and how badly they were treated… I think I would have gone insane! And I have, therefore, grown to respect and admire those women who survived even more. I won’t swear to the accuracy of historical bits but they feel genuine enough to me.
I have really enjoyed the dynamics between Monsarrat & Mrs. Mulrooney; together they are making the world a better place to live a teacup at a time. I am looking forward to the next instalment which will be set in Van Diemen’s Land!
Thanks to Vintage Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review