PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
Jean Pierre Ohl’s dazzling British tale with its mixture of gothic thriller and historical novel with more than a dash of black comedy lights up the French literary scene.
The Devil’s Road opens up a new exciting path for literary fiction.
Jean Pierre Ohl constructs a many faceted novel with elements of the police thriller and the gothic novel into a harmonious whole.
Set in 1824 England, this ambitious mystery from Ohl (The Lairds of Cromarty) depicts a time of monumental social change. The first railroad tracks are being laid across County Durham, much to the suspicion and displeasure of both gentry and common folk, so when workers dredging a pond near the abandoned ancestral home of the Beresford family find a woman’s skeleton with a dagger through her chest, the entire project is endangered. Locals assume that the body is that of Mathilda Beresford, who mysteriously disappeared two decades earlier, shortly before her husband mounted a coach for parts unknown, never to be seen again. Investors in the railroad send dissipated, disillusioned Justice of the Peace Edward Bailey to look into the matter, with express instructions that the Beresfords be cleared of any involvement in the woman’s death. Ohl offers an enjoyable homage to the world that shaped Charles Dickens, full of Dickensian characters, including a 12-year-old Charley himself.
This enjoyable novel is billed as a Dickensian romp and an exposé of the issues surrounding the industrialisation of early 19th-century England. The cast includes several real-life figures (George Stephenson, a 12-year-old Charles Dickens, and even a cameo appearance by Lord Byron), as well as fictitious ones, and at least one borrowed from Bleak House.