From the beginning of Turpin’s Prize, Foreman’s aim is clear. The very first scene shows his skill at creating a twist, which can be seen throughout the book, when it becomes clear that Dick Turpin is not the highwayman chasing the coach. Instead, Turpin is a passenger poised to be the saviour. What follows is all linked to this very first scene because Turpin’s fellow passenger, William Hogarth, can lead him to his prize.
Turpin’s (or Robert Joyce’s) friendship with Hogarth isn’t a huge plot element but is fun whenever it appears. Their interactions add humour to the storyline and adds to Turpin’s development as a character beyond his profession. His personality and views are noticeable through his conversations with Hogarth. Their jokes show they are on the same side and genuinely like each other.
The backstory to the novel’s events is clearly established. Before we meet the Duke of Somerset, a picture is painted of him as a villainous man who is worse than Turpin because of his arrogance and treatment towards others. Once we meet the Duke in person, Boulton is just as described and Turpin’s desire to steal from him appears fair. Even though Turpin is the one committing a crime in the book, Boulton is the true villain of the piece.
The way Turpin aims to get his prize (a priceless jewel) is by seducing the Duke’s daughter, Emma. She cannot be any more different to her father: she is thoughtful, considerate and witty. When she is introduced, Emma is in the library and is immediately shown to be kind, as well as intelligent, as ‘her semblance soon softened into a smile’. Emma’s thoughts and emotions are expressed throughout the book, such as her desire to marry for love and to not have men ‘ogling her’. Emma develops into more than just a plot device.
Turpin and Emma’s relationship, despite not lasting very long, is memorable. Their flirting and conversations feel real. Their humour is similar, and they have the same hobbies, as shown by them meeting in a library. Their relationship provides a certain amount of tenderness, in a very action-filled book. However, I am glad that Turpin stays loyal (although not completely) to his wife, Elizabeth. The career criminal is not entirely devoid of morals.
In Turpin’s Prize we step outside of London, into a new environment, to follow Turpin in his hunt for his prize. Foreman skilfully moves between different genres, making this a captivating read. Fans of historical fiction and crime books will enjoy Turpin’s Prize.