About Me

My photo
Ripon, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Gary Dolman was born in the industrial north east of England in the 1960s, but grew up in Harrogate in Yorkshire, where he now lives with his wife, three children and dogs. His writing reflects his fascination by the dark places of the human mind.

The Eighth Circle of Hell.

In the Nineteenth Century, when the British Empire was approaching its very zenith, the Victorians began to believe, that with their power and their fabulous wealth, they could do almost anything. Victorian gentlemen in particular realised that they could indeed do anything...and get away with it.

A young, orphaned girl falls prey to a group of powerful, predatory men.  Decades later, advancing dementia pushes her inexorably back into the hell she spent a lifetime trying to forget. (Historical Crime Fiction.)

Excerpt from The Eighth Circle of Hell:

Chapter 1:

“In my experience, little girls who beg for mercy seldom deserve it.”
Elizabeth sees his mouth moving, sees it framing the words – those words. She hears them inside her head, filling it, creeping through her body; through her arms, her legs, turning them to ice.
His hands lift and reach out towards her, overpowering, unstoppable. She wants to beg him for mercy, to beg him not to do it, but the undeserved words gag in her throat. She tries to turn, tries to push him away, but her leaden limbs refuse to heed the shrieking, shrieking screams of her brain. Then two more people are there, with their smiling, laughing faces – a man and a woman. They catch her arms and hold her fast as he smiles the very smile of the Fiend, and reaches down for her.

“Elizabeth Wilson has lived in workhouses since she was a girl of fifteen, Mr and Mrs Fox.”
The master of the Knaresborough Union Workhouse smiled benignly as he pushed open the door to his private office.
“Which amounts to forty-five years in total, barring a few months she had as a pauper apprentice. She had, let me see, thirteen years at the Starbeck Workhouse before it closed and then the rest here, at the Knaresborough Union. But in all that time, I believe you are the first visitors she’s ever had. Well perhaps not; I’m told there was one other but that was many years ago and it all came to naught.
Please, take a seat. I’ve asked that one of the better pauper girls brings us some tea and then I’ll have Elizabeth fetched from the infirmary.”
The warm, lilting Geordie accent tempered his otherwise austere appearance.
The master’s office was very much like the man himself; large and ascetic but softened here and there by a few more comfortable furnishings. One of these was a pair of plump, buttoned leather settees and Atticus and Lucie Fox sank obediently onto the nearest of them while the master settled into its mirror twin, separated from them by a low and highly polished coffee table.
He regarded them inquisitively for a moment, like an angel at the Gates of Paradise, and smiled once again.
“Are you relatives of Elizabeth, do you mind me asking?”
Atticus shook his head.
“I don’t mind at all, Mr Liddle and no, we aren’t relatives; Mrs Fox and I are privately-commissioned investigators. We’ve been asked to trace the whereabouts of Miss Wilson on behalf of our principal who is a close relative of hers.”
“I see. May I perhaps know the identity of your principal?”
“Certainly, he’s Dr Michael Roberts of Harrogate. Miss Wilson was taken in as a child by her uncle, Alfred Roberts, who is Dr Roberts’ grandfather.”
“Alfred Roberts the great philanthropist?”
Atticus nodded. “The very same.”
“Another of his great acts of kindness, no doubt,” said Liddle.
He sighed reflectively.
“There’s many a poor orphan or pauper child that Alfred Roberts sent on to a better life abroad or found a situation for in the houses of the gentry. I believe I read somewhere that he even had his own house built larger to take many of them in himself, until he could move them on.”
“That is true; it was a large annexe he added to the rear of his house. He took Miss Wilson in shortly after he had it built. That was many years ago when the second of her own parents, her mother, passed away. Alfred Roberts was her mother’s elder brother and her only living relative. Dr Roberts told us that she ran away around two years after his grandfather first took her in and, as we now know, eventually came to be here, in the union workhouse.”
Liddle nodded genially.
“I’ve heard a great deal of Dr Roberts. He’s recently become a firm acquaintance of Mr Manders, our medical officer here, and as I understand it, he’s a psychiatric doctor of no little renown.”
The leather of the settee creaked under him as he leaned forward, conspiratorially.
“We have, as you might imagine, quite a number of lunatics and imbeciles here. Dr Roberts freely gives us any help and advice he can. He’s a philanthropist in the family tradition; there is no doubt of it.
What you tell me is fascinating though. I knew that Elizabeth had come to be in the workhouse under rather…mysterious circumstances, shall we say, but until now I knew very few of the details. She’s obviously well educated, and gentle-born, but Lizzie – Elizabeth, that is – never speaks of her life before she went to Starbeck. In fact by all accounts, she rarely spoke at all for quite a number of years. Sister Lovell, the workhouse nurse, has known her the longest; in fact, it was she who finally got her to speak again.”
He was interrupted by a timid knock on the door. It opened and a tall, gangly girl appeared, blushing heavily and carrying a handsome, silver tea tray as if it might suddenly turn on her at any moment and bite.
“Curtsey, Sally,” the master reminded her sharply.
“I’m sorry, Mr Liddle.”
The girl paused to curtsy clumsily and then slowly, with infinite care, set the tray down on the coffee table.


  1. Greetings Gary,

    As requested, I'm responding to the excerpts from your novel, "The Eighth Circle of Hell".

    From the excerpts I've read, your articulation captivates and indeed captures the stark, gloomy reality of those times. And indeed, the marked distinction of the undermined and those of wealth, of greed and philanthropy. Somewhat of a barometer of what is happening in Britain these days.

    Elizabeth's journey back through those horrific early days of her life, through her dementia state of mind, makes for intriguing and compulsive reading.

    You have, with fine detail, enhanced the many facets and emotive consequences of the mid-Nineteenth century Victorian era.

    If you so wish, in February, I'm featuring some aspiring and published authors on my blog. I've done such features before on my varied site. Please let me know if this can be of any help to you.

    Superbly crafted work of art. Your book is certainly a most absorbing, fascinating glimpse into those times.

    With respect and goodwill,


  2. Powerful and moving. Congratulations on a unique piece of writing. I am going to have to buy it, even though the subject matter fills me with dread!

  3. Hellish, but intriguing. Definitely deserves a closer look.

  4. Wow! Hideously awesome. Love your title. Your writing makes me realize how very far I need to climb to reach this level. Brilliant!

  5. Thanks for suggesting I check this out. I found it an interesting and absorbing piece of writing. Those who enjoy historical novels with a powerful and disturbing theme will enjoy this immensely. K.J.Rabane

  6. Great post. Great writing. Following your blog. Please feel free to visit mine and join. www.judyanndavis.blogspot.com
    Have a good weekend ahead.

  7. It's been a long time since I've read something as polished as this. Thanks for sending me the link to this post, I'm going to come back and read it again :-)

  8. Great story. enjoyed. following you,feel free to follow me.
    http://patrickoscheen.wordpress.com/ thanks!

  9. People are raving about this story and I came over to read a little about it, and now I truly understand why people are talking about it. The writing is excellent and the descriptions are outstanding. A must to read!
    Pattimari Sheets (Diamond) Cacciolfi

  10. Great post! I need to get this book now. It isn't a matter of want. Your writing is superb.

  11. Powerful writing, definitely not for the faint-hearted.

  12. Thanks for the follow on Twitter from a fellow writer not too far away in Yorkshire. I like the sound of your story about abusive Victorian gentlemen. By coincidence I'm currently ploughing my way through The Moor and the Loch by Victorian aristo John Colquhoun. It describes the carnage inflicted on nature by the hunting shooting fishing set in the nineteenth century. It's a reproduction by Bibliolife. They assumed total dominion over nature as well as the lesser mortals that you write about.
    Best wishes
    Alan Calder

  13. You've captured the horrors and the privilege beautifully. This is both disturbing and mesmerizing, a wicked combination for a reader.

    Congratulations on that achievement. I'm intrigued, which doesn't happen often for me in period fiction. In these short pages you've managed to round out characters through dialogue and a few tag lines to the point where love and hate are firmly established early on and pages move under the eye at a rapid pace.

    Thanks for inviting me to have a taste of the after dinner treat.

  14. Despicable behavior, but customary plight of the defenceless, which still persists. Excellent portrayal of tragic circumstances which immediately sets the scene. Added to my to read list;)

  15. One of the few book excerpts I have been sent to read that had me actually at attention throughout the entire thing to read it all. I am adding it to my "To Read" list because I love historical fiction and bringing to light the fact women for decades have been the subject of abuse both by men and those who would not defense them who knew the truth. You have captured the Lizzie's fear perfectly and showed both sides of the coin of the existing persona of the other characters. Brilliant writing that deserves 5 stars just for the post here!

  16. Great job, John. I am too sensitive a reader to put up with descriptive abuse. My characters must get revenge and redemption in 188 pages. But then I sanction castration between the covers. Which gives me an idea for my next novel. I hope someday I'll write as well as you do. Best, squire.

  17. Wow, this sounds very interesting! I'm going to add this book to my "to read" list. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Steph Post

  18. Thanks for pointing me to this excerpt. Great job I really enjoyed especially as I'm still a Yorkshire lad at heart even after moving away.

    Don't forget to check out the first chapter of my humorous fantasy at http://www.carlhackman.com/2013/05/15/jaguar-new-project/

  19. Thoroughly enjoyed this read. The atmosphere you have captured is compelling and the terror in the little girl is palpable.
    Thanks for pointing me in this direction.

  20. Powerful intense writing, Gary.


  21. Bought it a few moments ago.

  22. Powerful and moving writing, Gary. Truly captures the atmosphere of power structures of the Victorian era. A poor woman with no protector was helpless against men of means. And so many men of means sorely abused them. Sounds like your book will be a riveting read.

  23. I was immersed from the first paragraph. This will have to go onto my reading list.

  24. Best of luck with the People's Book Prize. No reason why this one shouldn't be a winner. Saying that, I had trouble signing in to vote but it's been a bad internet day today. I'll try again.

  25. a dark subject indeed, but horrifyingly true. We tend to think of abuse as a modern affliction but the vulnerable have always been at risk of the powerful. Have put on my Christmas book list - my husband and I do not need what we call ABO's - ornaments! As we are both avid readers in print and E-versions it is the best gift.

  26. I love the writing style - intense and it pulls you in.

  27. We are all voyeurs of life. No matter how harrowing. You have managed to encapsulate the true suffering of an innocent - in your opening lines. Brilliantly penned Gary.


  28. This excerpt is at once interesting and disturbing. Excellent writing, so intense and engaging, I had to keep reading.