Release Date: Oct 27, 2020
Imprint: William Morrow
Tabitha Hardy has always felt like an outsider in her hometown, but she still returns from London to the village of Okeham, England where she grew up. She is working with a friend to fix up an old house when the dead body of her neighbor is found outside her back door. Tabitha is arrested for the murder, and everyone in the village seems to think she’s guilty. Even her own lawyer isn’t convinced of Tabitha’s innocence so Tabitha feels compelled to take matters into her own hands. Soon many secrets about Tabitha and also the victim come out. Tabitha has made some bad decisions in her life, but is she guilty of murder?
Nicci French, the pen name for a husband and wife writing team, is a popular author, but this is the first book I have read by French. House of Correction is a standalone novel that is part mystery, part courtroom thriller. The first part of the book focuses on Tabitha trying to adjust to life in prison while she awaits her trial. Tabitha is often her own worst enemy and when she smarts off to some of the prison staff members, she made me cringe. Although her actions are off-putting at first, I really started rooting for Tabitha as the story continues. When Tabitha disagrees with the way her solicitor is handling her case and announces her strategy for her defense, I was skeptical. Some of the things that happen are hard to believe, but if you just go with it like I did, you will be rewarded with a suspenseful story. Not all aspects are completely believable, but they are fun to read.
The investigation is very interesting as Tabitha pieces together the evidence against her and comes up with the right questions to ask to uncover other motives and suspects for the murder. The courtroom scenes are riveting and I became fully immersed in the story as Tabitha’s research comes in handy against the prosecution’s case against her. There is drama as well as humor, and the trial is more entertaining than I had imagined. Tabitha has one person on her side, her former cellmate Michaela who was recently released, and the two make a formidable team. The final chapters of the book more than make up for a somewhat slow start, and I highly recommend this book that will appeal to fans of Alafair Burke.