New release

Available in paperback (ISBN:  9780648522324)  and e-book (ISBN:  9780648522331)

1897: Isabella Trent is found murdered in an Australian asylum cell. Why did she die? Who is the killer? What is the meaning of the ornate motifs that Isabella has secretly embroidered on a man’s frock coat?

Years earlier, young Lucy Malpass leaves her home town in Staffordshire for London, where she is drawn into a community of artists and socialists around William Morris and his family. Before long there is not only a prospect of fulfilling work but also a glimpse of reciprocal passion. Then her high hopes gradually begin to unravel.

There seems to be a link between Lucy and Isabella, related somehow to an old Icelandic tale. But what exactly is this link, and what can it explain about their closely held secrets?

The Madwoman’s Coat is a story of love and grief, artistry and insanity, acts of sudden transgression and moments of quiet contemplation.

Released from Dartmoor Prison in 1889, a black man breaks back into it soon afterwards. Interned in the same jail during World War 1, a conscientious objector seems to invite trouble and seek harsh punishment. On a present-day Australian university campus, a Muslim student is mysteriously killed.

Ian Reid is the author of fifteen books – fiction, poetry and non-fiction. His writings have been translated into five languages and won international recognition including the Antipodes prize. The Madwoman’s Coat, his fifth historical novel, was partly written during his tenure of a J.S. Battye Memorial Fellowship. He lives in Perth and is an Adjunct Professor in English and Literary Studies at the University of Western Australia.

For more information about this author and his other work, see his website:

Praise for Ian Reid’s fiction:

  • “The author’s prose is always vivid and evocative, almost poetic. The dialogue, moral dilemmas and contradictions are all handled with equally exquisite expression. It’s been a long time since I came to the end of a novel and immediately wanted to read it again to uncover more of its nuances. Ian Reid is a revelation, and deserves the widest recognition as a remarkable ambassador for Australian historical fiction.”  Historical Novel Review (U.K.) – ‘Editor’s Choice’
  • “A great gathering of personality, character after character, in irreducible and fully imagined life… Ian Reid gives us the ‘life-surplus’ of history: love and journeys and work and ideas, fear and purposeful action and sometimes failure, all playing out before us in this big and beautifully balanced novel of character.”  Rochford Street Review
  • “Reid richly evokes the abandoned English worlds of those who travel to the antipodes, whose loss is therefore the more poignant. Turn by turn he engages us with his characters’ untidy and unruly fates in an assured work of historical reconstruction and imagination.”  The Australian
  • “Skilfully realised… How well does any person know the ‘truth’ of another? This question underpins much of the novel and keeps the reader turning the pages… The gradual revelation of clues allows the reader to become a detective in pursuit of truth.” Transnational Literature
  • “Compelling characters leap off the page… It is historical detective fiction and social commentary rolled into one. The texture shimmers.”  The West Australian
  • “Reid scores a considerable success in recreating the hard-scrabble frontier towns of an age that is increasingly alien to our own. The reader encounters a pageant of nineteenth-century lives here… a realistic portrait of a bleak world.”  Australian Book Review
  • “A complex story of mystery and intrigue… I was completely absorbed from the first page until the final scene.”  Bookseller and Publisher
  • “Richly layered… Wherever his characters go, Ian Reid places us vividly there.”  The Age
  • “Compelling… intense… poetic… It stayed with me and has been hard to shake off.”  Sydney Morning Herald
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