The Rajah sails for Australia.
On board are 180 women convicted of petty crimes, sentenced to start a new life half way across the world.
Daughters, sisters, mothers – they’ll never see home or family again. Despised and damned, all they have now is each other.
Until the murder.
As the fearful hunt for a killer begins, everyone on board is a suspect.
The investigation risks tearing their friendships apart . . .
But if the killer isn’t found, could it cost them their last chance of freedom?
Based on a real-life voyage, Dangerous Women is a sweeping tale of confinement, hope and the terrible things we do to survive.
1841: The Rajah sets sail for Australia, carrying 180 convicts guilty of petty crimes. Three months at sea, a gruelling voyage for all. But little known to the men and women aboard, there is an intruder in their company, a perpetrator of far worse than theft and forgery. And she is willing to do anything to escape the gallows.
On board the Rajah, tempers flare, furious voices rise and, for one women, threat bleeds into violence. As an investigation ensues, all eyes are on the women – mothers, daughters, sisters. They are all suspects of a vicious crime, they are all guilty until proven innocent.
I absolutely adored the setting of the Rajah ship. It is claustrophobic and atmospheric. Kezia Hayter is a wonderful character to follow: calm, thoughtful, supportive, vigilant in her role as matron. I enjoyed how the chapters alternated between characters: it gave me the opportunity to learn more about the women’s backgrounds, their individual stories and it also allowed me to emotionally connect with them.
Inspired by true events: the Rajah voyage transported 180 convicts to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania, as it’s now known) and during this voyage, 18 women, led by Kezia Hayter, crafted a large patchwork quilt, which is today held at the National Gallery of Australia. (I would love to see this one day!)
The glorious detail and rich dialogue lends an authenticity to the book which is transporting. It’s clear from the outset how much care and consideration has been invested in the research of this book. After reading, I found myself googling The Rajah and the quilt, it’s fascinating and, simply put, awe-inspiring how the author has drawn it all together in this book.
Dangerous Women is a taut, clever and well-researched mystery novel, which explores themes of confinement, injustice, hope, perseverance and survival. Woven through with superb dialogue, beautiful prose, memorable characters and raw emotion. I so enjoyed it! This is wonderful historical ‘locked-room’ mystery.
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About the Author:
Hope Adams was born in Jerusalem and spent her early childhood in many different countires, including Nigeria and British Norht Borneo. She now lives near Cambridge. She has written books for children and adults as Adèle Geras.
With thanks to Gaby and Michael Joseph for my gifted ARC, which I received in exchange for an honest review!