Today I’m sharing my review of The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry as part of the blog tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater for my blog tour invite and review copy of the book.
Edinburgh, 1849. Hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. And a campaign seeks to paint Dr James Simpson, pioneer of medical chloroform, as a murderer.
Determined to clear Simpson’s name, his protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher must plunge into Edinburgh’s deadliest streets and find out who or what is behind the deaths. Soon they discover that the cause of the deaths has evaded detection purely because it is so unthinkable
The Art of Dying is the follow up to The Way of All Flesh so it may be worthwhile reading its predecessor before picking up this one, although the storyline itself is a standalone one. And it is once again set in Victorian Edinburgh, a city that has a history of being at the forefront of medical research and invention. I have a personal fondness as I studied in Edinburgh and have great memories of doing my human dissection in the wonderful buildings of the medical school there-I often felt like I gone back in time whilst in the very rooms that those medical pioneers also inhabited all those years ago.
Dr James Simpsons name is synonymous with the use of medical chloroform and it’s widely known that many who thought that they should have some credit weren’t particularly happy he was getting lots of attention. So when a number of patients across the city start dying, he is the one that others seek to blame. His protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah are determined to clear his name and find the real culprit but there could be an unthinkable reason behind the deaths and that is that a serial killer is hiding behind a respectable facade ready to strike again…
I loved being back in the company of Will and Sarah again. Lots has happened since we last met them-none of which I want to spoil for you! But they are united in their determination to clear Dr James Simpsons name even if it means facing a rather shocking conclusion about who is to blame for a series of unexpected deaths. I like Sarah and her involvement in the medical profession when women were still seen as second class citizen’s no matter how intelligent they were.
The medical details throughout this book have been well researched and often graphic but they show a true representation of the dark and disturbing side of the profession during the Victorian era. The scenes describing gynaecological procedures especially were macabre and terrifying in their intensity as were the vile acts performed by the murderer. Not a pleasant experience at times but one that was spine tingling in its authenticity.
I adored The Art of Dying-it is Scottish historical crime fiction at its absolute best. Beautifully written, bringing to life it’s fascinating subject matter with superlative skill balancing real life facts with fictional characters. And the ending left me wanting more in the future-Will and Sarah definitely have unfinished business to resolve! If you haven’t read much historical crime fiction then you need to pick up on this series-it’s brilliant and I can’t get enough of it!
Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The couple are married and live in Scotland. Chris Brookmyre is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of over twenty novels. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this series, which began with The Way of All Flesh, is based. The Way of All Flesh was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.
The Art of Dying is the second book in the series.