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It was during the 1880s in Northern England that Jessie Smith, just thirteen years old, came to work for Ezekiel Dobson, owner of a high-class grocer's shop in the market town of Lambton. Although his shop was a cave of treasures -- ruby-red hams, old-gold cheeses, emerald-green apples -- he was the most miserly man in Lambton. Even the townspeople called him "Throttlepenny" behind his back. Soon the old man's meanness of mind and spirit began to wear Jessie down. And after Ezekiel was found murdered, suspicion -- and the threat of hanging -- fell on her. Yes, it was true she hated him, but no more than many children hate adults who behave unpleasantly to them, and she had never really meant to harm him. But now Jessie must fight to save her life and, in so doing, solve the mystery of the Throttlepenny Murder.
This is a gripping, whodunit novel that powerfully evokes the harsh realities of a working-class Victorian childhood.
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From School Library Journal:
ROGER GREEN is the author of The Stone Quartet of novels that includes The Fear of Samuel Walton, The Lengthening Shadow, The Devil Finds Work, and They Watched Him Die. He lives in Sheffield, England.
Grade 6-9-- Jessie Smith, 13, escapes poverty and the hardness of her life through her dreams of revenge against her cruel and miserly employer, whom the Derbyshire villagers have nicknamed "Throttlepenny." She has been seen making faces behind his back and pretending to return his kicks, so when Throttlepenny is found dead in the churchyard and Jessie is observed running from the scene with a bloody stone, she is put into Derby Gaol. In shock, she refuses to speak at all for fear of implicating her beloved boyfriend, John. Sickened by his own cowardice, John searches for a mysterious stranger who may be the key to the puzzle. The stakes are high, for it is England in 1885, and children can be hanged. Green tells a good story while accurately conveying the scenes and conditions of the Victorian era. Superbly delineated are the social, economic, and judicial systems of the time. The believable characters move through schools, farms, castles, construction sites, taverns, prisons, workhouses, and churches. Centering his imagery around gargoyles and light, Green makes it all work with the lyrical language of a storyteller, which readers somehow hear more than see. This is a well-constructed book, sure to provoke much discussion about capital punishment and the mores of our own times.
- Cindy Darling Codell, Belmont Junior High School, Winchester, Ky.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Oxford University Press, 1989. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0192716018