House of Correction by Nicci French, Review: Compelling court drama

House of Correction, the latest novel from husband and wife duo Nicci French, is a compelling courtroom drama that gives readers pause for thought. Read on for our full review.

House of Correction Book Synopsis

House of Correction Book Review - Nicci FrenchFrom the bestselling authors of The Lying Room

‘So,’ said Mora Piozzi, her lawyer, looking down at her laptop. ‘In brief: you are charged with the murder of Stuart Robert Rees, on December 21st, between the hours of ten-forty in the morning and half-past three o’clock in the afternoon.’

Tabitha is accused of murder. She is in prison awaiting trial.
There is a strong case against her, and she can’t remember what happened on December 21st.
She is alone, frightened and confused.
But somehow, from the confines of her cell, she needs to prove everyone wrong.

House of Correction is beautifully written, clever, shocking, twisty, so believable and utterly compelling. This is another stunningly brilliant novel to relish from Nicci French.

(Simon & Schuster – October 2020)

Genre: Crime-Detective, Thriller, Mystery, Drama

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post we may earn a small commission to help offset our running costs.


House of Correction gets its name from a comment made by the prison governor while reprimanding Tabitha after one of her many angry outbursts. An institution charged with correcting prisoners when their behaviour is deemed unacceptable by society. But what if you felt like judge, jury and executionor was merging into one force so insurmountable that you begin to doubt even yourself?

Of course, you’d be angry. You’d feel lost, unhinged and likely prone to rash behaviour. But even in this context, Tabitha is a particularly spikey protagonist, an underdog difficult to empathise with. Her propensity to bite the few hands trying to help her was a real barrier to engagement for me, but I persisted. And, I’m glad I did. Because, when Tabitha finally starts believing in herself (prompted by another character being kind and offering support), I began to also.

The House of Correction narrative really hit its stride once it moved into the courtroom. Aided by highly accessible prose, armchair TV detectives will enjoy riding shotgun and unpicking the evidence and witness testimony, and bearing witness to Tabitha’s hidden strength.

Despite some loose plotting, I did not entirely guess this novel’s conclusion, and the criminal prosecution portrayed offers readers considerable pause for thought. Opportunities to reflect on the burden of trauma so many individuals carry around and how prone we are to lay blame on others in the context of issues we do not (or choose not to) understand.

House of Correction by Nicci French is an easy-to-read, and ultimately compelling crime procedural from the other side of the table.

BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5  — Overall 3.25

Get your copy of House of Correction from:

Book Depository Booktopia Amazon Bookshop Kobo
OR listen to the audiobook FREE with Audible’s Trial (check eligibility)

House of Correction - Nicci French - Review Banner

About the Author, Nicci French

Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. The couple are married and live in London and Suffolk.

* Receiving a copy from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.