Read The Devil's Acre by Matthew Plampin Online


When betrayal is second nature, trust is the ultimate gamble.London, 1853. On the banks of the Thames, American entrepreneur Colonel Samuel Colt sets up a state-of-the-art weapons factory, capable of turning out his famous revolvers in their thousands. When Edward Lowry is hired as Colt's secretary, he is amazed by his good luck, but then he starts an affair with a girl frWhen betrayal is second nature, trust is the ultimate gamble.London, 1853. On the banks of the Thames, American entrepreneur Colonel Samuel Colt sets up a state-of-the-art weapons factory, capable of turning out his famous revolvers in their thousands. When Edward Lowry is hired as Colt's secretary, he is amazed by his good luck, but then he starts an affair with a girl from the factory floor, and realises that things are not what they seem. Among Colt's machine operators are a desperate gang from the Devil's Acre, and as guns start to go missing, it becomes clear that there are many with scores to settle and murder in mind....

Title : The Devil's Acre
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007273973
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 432 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Devil's Acre Reviews

  • Sue G
    2019-06-17 10:06

    I found this book a real struggle. I quite enjoy historical fiction but this was too heavy on the detail and descriptions and I found myself skipping through lengthy passages if it looked like nothing important was happening. To its credit I did manage to see it through to the end. There were several plotlines and a certain amount of "intrigue" but I don't think the author really managed to pull them all off. The different threads had an odd mix of political as well as action, as if the author wasn’t quite sure which route to take. There is some romance thrown in too and whilst the couple’s relationship appeared to get stronger during the story it didn’t seem to be apparent how or why this happened. It reminded me a lot of Jed Rubenfield's The Interpretation of Murder - and I didn't enjoy that either. I think there's a lesson to be learnt here!

  • Tara Galligan
    2019-06-11 08:04

    I struggled through the first part of this book and then sad to say I willy gave up. 'Life is too short'. I found I had no empathy with any of the characters as they were all extremely flat. The Irish element I found annoying also. May go back to it at some stage but would have to be fairly desperate.

  • Julia
    2019-06-04 12:54

    I enjoy historical fiction but with this book I felt way out of my comfort zone. The descriptions were very lengthy at times and I just skimmed most of them. Well, to be honest, I skimmed most of the book.

  • Gill
    2019-06-22 07:53

    Gosh this has taken me a long time to read! I found it hard going in places but wanted to find out how it ended so persevered.Am pleased I finished it (and glad it's over!)

  • RB
    2019-06-08 08:07

    One of my all time favourites. Firstly, I loved the setting. The descriptions of Victorian London really drew me into that world. Having lived in London some of the places in the book are really familiar and when I walk by places like Greenwich Park I'm reminded of scenes in the book and find myself playing spot the difference between the present day and Victorian times.The story itself is exciting and fresh. You can tell the author really knows what he's writing about. The Colt revolver plays a big part in the story and you can tell he's done his research there. The characters are realistic and I like how some of the main characters have a mix of stereotypically 'good' and 'bad' traits. I think Martin was a great main character, I was really invested in his journey. It was interesting how he was so often torn between two different paths. All the characters including supporting ones such as factory workers and the rest of the Molly's were well written and had their own backstories. I would definitely recommend this book. I enjoyed it start to finish but if you're struggling with the first couple of chapters the action definitely builds as the story goes along so it's worth persevering.

  • Louise Bray
    2019-05-29 11:13

    I normally really like historical fiction and the blurb sounded so interesting, but alas no. I think if you love really long-winded descriptions of guns and gun-making machines you'll love this, but I just found it really dragged with all the excessive narration. It did pick up towards the end though when the action started.

  • Ipswichblade
    2019-05-28 11:49

    A good fast paced read

  • M.G. Mason
    2019-05-27 16:06

    I occasionally try to read out of my comfort zone. Granted, historical fiction is within my comfort zone but only when it's a period or subject about which I know a lot or have a keen interest in. I can't say I knew all that much about Samuel Colt when this book came into my possession, but the blurb sounded interesting, promising political intrigue in Victorian London during the period of the gang warfare in the 1850s on the eve of The Crimean War.Samuel Colt is an American industrialist looking to manufacture and sell his brand new invention in London to the British government - the Colt Revolver. He hopes to win a contract to supply the British army as it moves to halt the session of Imperial Russia in the east. This (almost stereotypically) brash American has no patience, gets annoyed with the slow process of the government dragging their feet with war on their doorstep.But it is not all plain sailing. Sinister forces are at work attempting to derail Colt's efforts and opportunists are keen to try out his product in the field, threatening to set off the tinder box on London's streets. Edward Lowry is hired at the factory, and when he soon develops a romance with one of the women on the factory floor, he gets a sniff of something not quite right down below - and I don't mean the gunpowder. Soon enough, guns start to go missing from the warehouse and naturally, the numerous riff-raff of cheap labour hired from The Devil's Acre are all suspects. Against the backdrop of gangland warfare and political intrigue, someone needs to stop all out war on the streets of Queen Victoria's London.Books like this can sometimes struggle to find the right balance between plot and character. There are periods of heavy scene-setting and description, which I liked, but also periods of character "development" that felt contrived. I refer specifically to the romance which feels more like a plot device than a genuine attachment between two people. It almost feels that it's the catalyst behind the revelation of the major plot rather than a sub-plot there's to break up the pace and add respite. I don't know whether Lowry existed, or his love interest for that matter, and if they did then I feel it is an opportunity wasted.Not the most gripping read of the year, but it did help to fill in a few gaps of a period of London's history that maybe many people do not know about. When we think Victorian London, we think Jack The Ripper and we think of The Industrial Revolution, and of Charles Dickens, but rarely about the slums, the gangs and the dodgy deals of the growing commercialism.The plot didn't really come together when trying to blend the historical fiction with the thriller element and there are much better examples than this. 3/5.See more book reviews at my blog

  • Huw Evans
    2019-06-13 10:50

    Sam Colt, the American entrepreneur, is looking to set up a factory in London to manufacture his revolvers using his assembly line techniques that revolutionised arms manufacture. It was set up in the 1850s at the time of the Crimean war (1853-56) and he firmly hoped that the English would place a significant order for his weapons. Unfortunately, for him, no such order was placed and his factory closed four years later. It was, indeed, visited by Charles Dickens as well as other more appropriate military dignitaries.The Devil's Acre was the area immediately next to the Houses of Parliament and was the worst slum in London, overcrowded, stinking and full of the refuse (human and otherwise) of the Great Wen. Herein lies my first criticism of the book; if you are going to put in a map MAKE IT LEGIBLE. The Molly Maguires, a Catholic Irish organisation given to revenge of the injustices inflicted by the Protestant English and Iris also existed though possibly not in London. Their greatest impact was seen in the coal fields of Pennsylvania in the 1870s.That is the historical part of the book and is possibly the most interesting. The plotline is obvious and the characters archetypal. Colt himself, baccy chewing and bourbon guzzling, is hard bitten and willing to sell arms to whoever will give him the right price. His American management team shoot first and ask questions later, with all the subtlety recognisable in 1970 cop shows. His secretary is a pusillanimous Brit stirred only by patriotism until he finds love on the shop floor. The Mollys are stupid, malevolent and alcoholic psychotics. Even the alleyways of the Devil's acre have been better described.All in all this book didn't tick any boxes and, if it is part of a series, I shall happily avoid the rest.

  • Kurt Keefner
    2019-06-24 09:59

    I read this because it is set in a factory with an industrialist as one of it's main characters. I'm looking for productive heroes. It isn't a bad book. It tells an interesting story surrounding the real Samuel Colt's attempt to sell revolvers to the British military by setting up a factory in London, recruiting workers from the poorest neighborhood, the so-called Devil's Acre. The problem is Colt is not to be trusted and some of his workers are Mollie Maguires (Irish terrorists) who want to steal guns to use in one of their attacks. Drama ensues.The factory, the slum, the dress, the mannerism and all that are very well realized. The Mollies alone are worth the price of admission.What's lacking is character. Oh yes, we have plenty of colorful personalities, but only one of them grows and he's just not that interesting. Colt is not the productive hero I was seeking. The characters are types, presented to drive plot. The book has a fairly complex plot with three or four strains, deftly interwoven, but the problem is that plot without character growth is ultimately meaningless. At least to me. Actually, I've just given a working definition of most genre fiction (mystery, sci-fi, thriller, etc.). I don't find genre fiction satisfying although I admit it can be entertaining.I have to mention that there are real people mixed in with the fictional ones. A certain very prominent Victorian figure shows up at the factory and makes quite an impression. It has nothing to do with the plot, but (since it really happened), it must have been too good for the author to resist. If you are interested in the period features and a reasonably exciting story, you might give this a try. Elizabeth Gaskell, it ain't.

  • CuteBadger
    2019-06-15 10:16

    In 1850s London, American entrepreneur Samuel Colt opens a factory to manufacture his firearms. Staffed with some of the city's poorest, inhabitants of the slum area called the Devil's Acre, the undertaking is a hotbed of voilence, plots and political intrigue which seems bound to end in a conflagration.I love anything set in the Victorian era, so was pleased to receive a copy of this book as a Christmas present. I really enjoyed the first half of the book and found it quite reminiscent of something by Wilkie Collins (though I won't go as far as saying it's Dickensian. The city and the factory are portrayed well and lots of intruiging plot threads a laid which seemed to promise much for the rest of the book.However, as it went on I found I was enjoying it less and found myself skipping sections to try to find out what happened without having to read it all. I think part of the problem was that I didn't really feel that any of the characters were real people. Colt was very much larger than life, but the others felt thin and one-dimensional, so I didn't really empathise with them. It seemed to me like the author had spent all his energy on creating a highly-detailed background, all historically correct, but then didn't have enough left in him to do the same for his characters.I also felt like that plot threads that had been laid in the first half of the book weren't followed through as well as they promised to be, with some of it just petering out and not reaching a satisfactory conclusion.I did enjoy the first half of the book though, and would read more by Matthew Plampin just to see if his other books live up the promise of the first half of this one.

  • Jo Barton
    2019-06-03 09:58

    This is a review book for newbooksmag -Set in Victorian England 1853, The Gunmaker’s Gift tells the captivating story of how American gun maker Samuel Colt brought the production of the colt pistol to a factory in Pimlico. The Crimean war clouds are gathering and it appears that the time is ripe for weapon production on a grand scale. With a workforce gathered from the fragments of the poorer parts of London, the factory floor is ripe with plots, political instability and disorder. Well written and historically accurate this book is alive with intrigue and illustrates not just the political unrest of the time but also the personal conflict between Samuel Colt’s ambitious young secretary Edward Lowry, and his unlikely involvement with a volatile factory worker, Caroline Knox.Never having given much thought to the mass production of weapons during this period in history I became fascinated with the technical detail, and the idea that women were employed on the factory floor made the story all the more thought provoking.On a personal level I really enjoyed this book, the historical detail is exceptional and because the characterisation is so finely drawn you get a real sense of time and place. I found myself reading the story quite slowly in order to absorb and remember the fine detail. I am sure it would facilitate lively discussion as part of a reading group read.

  • Kelv
    2019-06-07 11:10

    The only thing that makes this book two stars is the fact that it covers true events.The author is clearly a Dickens fan; trying to display 'ye ole' England, adding dirty / dark London - heck lets put Dickens in the plot as well and make him look eccentric, let's not forget the disappointing crescendo ending (that is actually more of whimper)The characters were poorly developed - no clear protagonist / antagonist, coming in and out of the story, no real depth. Did Martin Rea have a mental condition - this seems to be an inadvertent part of the story. Maybe all the "Paddy's" were supposed to be portrayed as unstable.The plot or aim is never really decided; was there a moral argument we are supposed to take note and consider? Was the selling of guns, or the romance of Caroline and Edward, or even Molly Maguires retribution... important; who could say.The prose - FFS - is tedious, I do not need a paragraph describing every dirty london street on every second page or so; it was a distraction and throws rhythm at the wall.

  • Janette Fleming
    2019-06-08 15:10

    WHEN Samuel Colt sets up a gun factory in the heart of Victorian London, his new London secretary sees only career advancement and excitement ahead. But it is not long before Colt’s deadly product brings conspiracy, bitter deception and bloodshed to the streets of Westminster.Among the workforce Colt has gathered from the seething mass of London’s poor are a gang of desperate Irish immigrants, embittered refugees from the potato famine, who intend to use these stolen six-shooters for a political assassination in the name of revenge.As pistols start to go missing, divided loyalties and hidden agendas make the gun-maker’s factory the setting for a tense story of intrigue, betrayal and murder.This detailed and gripping historical novel draws the reader deep into the overlapping worlds of Victorian London, from the drawing rooms of the political elite to the worst slums of the desperate poor. A revealing portrait of an exhilarating period in English history.Bookdrum

  • David Grieve
    2019-05-26 15:01

    I would have given this 4 1/2 stars if possible as it was a really good book.I wasn't sure what to expect of the tale of Samuel Colt and his revolver factory built in Pimlico in mid 19th century London as it was something I know nothing about. However, by blending fact and fiction Plampin has created an engrossing and fascinating story with a real feel for the time and the environment. The story revolves around Colt, his English secretary Lowry and an engineer Rea, the latter of whom lives in the Devil's Acre of the title with a bunch of radical Irish immigrants. Colt is driven purely by business, a fact that Lowry admires and respects and wants to emulate. However, as the business becomes more ruthless and the Irish start using the factory for their own ends. Lowry is forced to reconsider his position.Thoroughly entertaining and well worth a read.

  • Marguerite Kaye
    2019-06-23 15:54

    I gave up on this about two thirds of the way through so I haven't rated it. I wanted to finish it, I really wanted to like it, but I just got bored. The subject matter is interesting, the setting is fascinating, it's well-written, and historically really well researched, but the characters didn't hold me. I think the problem was that you never really got to know them as anything other than plot devices, and so when the plot started to unfold and you could see the mess they were going to get into, instead of feeling empathy I was just irked. I'm going to try Matthew Plampin's first book though, becuase as I said, I really wanted to like this. Strange one.

  • Victoria Conlan
    2019-06-11 10:57

    I don't know what I did not like about this book. The story was kind of ok, the characters were kind of interesting, the writing was ok ... but for some reason it just didn't pull me in or make me care about anyone or anything that was going on. Which is possibly why it took me over 2 years to complete reading it! (I lost the book, I didn't care enough to put the effort in to find it again)I am giving it a generous 3 stars because by the end I did want to know how it all finished (although I predicted mostly right what was going to happen) - I wavered between 2 and 3. This was a solid 2.5 star book.

  • Fritz Fissel
    2019-06-04 08:49

    I guess either you like historical fiction or you don't. I do and found this book by accident and was enthralled. It pictures Sam Colt as an opportunistic, manipulative,uncultured, capitalistic boor as only Americans can be! The machinations he goes through to attemp to manipulate the British government into buying his gun; even to the extent of trying to sell his British made guns to their Russian adversaries, was fascinating. The trouble with historical fiction is that you never know what is historically accurate. Maybe that's why I like it, because the same applies to actual history!

  • Kirsteen
    2019-06-19 13:08

    So disappointed. Bought 'The Street Philosopher' on a whim (aka because it was cheap!) in Fopp and really enjoyed it. Most especially The Crimean War detail, which surprised me. With 'The Devil's Acre' if found myself disliking ALL the characters which became a real obstacle to any enjoyment or interest in how the affairs of the 'navy colt' were going to conclude.

  • Beck
    2019-06-24 13:07

    An interesting story that pulls you in with great character development which leaves you feeling as if you know each personally. Some parts dragged a little bit too much for my liking but the story flowed well. Would recommend.

  • Elizabeth Moffat
    2019-06-12 16:03

    A decent and interesting tale about the infamous colonel colt and his attempts to set up a weapons factory in London. I liked the writing style, the imagery of that time, and the Irish presence with the religious catholic/Protestant issues. Worth a read!

  • Rebecca
    2019-06-12 16:10

    Read from book club list and definitely not something I would have looked at had it not been on the list - interesting historically, nicely woven fiction with fact - surprised myself and found it a good read

  • Amy Smith
    2019-06-09 15:56

    So far so good but the description of the characters and places are a little heavy

  • Marnie Doble
    2019-06-22 09:46

    Sorry to say I gave up a third of the way through this book - I persevered but it just didn't grab my interest.

  • Amanda Baines
    2019-06-10 08:12

    Heavy, long. Not my type of story

  • Dee
    2019-06-17 11:02

    Couldn't really get into it. Might come back to it at a later date.

  • Jane Walker
    2019-06-05 10:55

    Plampin is an original writer, and this book, set in London in 1853, tells a tale based on fact. The characters are all well drawn, and the events described vividly. Good stuff.

  • Amelia
    2019-05-29 12:00

    A fascinating story built around actual historical events related to Samuel Colt's starting a gun factory in London, cut across many levels of society.

  • Nicolien
    2019-06-18 10:58

    Nice book to pass the time, but I wouldn't have bought this for myself.

  • Annemarie Groves
    2019-05-30 14:54

    Took a while to get into it, but found it a really good read. Not until the end did I realise it was based on real life events.