Speakers of the Dead is a mystery novel centering around the investigative exploits of a young Walt Whitman, in which the reporter-cum-poet navigates the seedy underbelly of New York City's body-snatching industry in an attempt to exonerate his friend of a wrongful murder charge.
The year is 1843; the place: New York City. Aurora reporter Walt Whitman arrives at the Tombs prison yard, where his friend, Lena Stowe, is scheduled to hang for the murder of her husband, Abraham. Walt intends to present evidence on Lena's behalf, but Sheriff Harris turns him away. Lena drops to her death, and Walt vows to posthumously exonerate her.
Walt's estranged boyfriend, Henry Saunders, returns to New York, and the two men uncover a link between body snatching and Abraham's murder: a man named Samuel Clement. To get to Clement, Walt and Henry descend into a dangerous underworld where resurrection men steal the bodies of the recently deceased and sell them to medical colleges. With no legal means to acquire cadavers, medical students rely on these criminals, and Abraham's involvement with the Bone Bill - legislation that would put the resurrection men out of business - seems to have led to his and Lena's deaths.
Fast paced and gripping, Speakers of the Dead is a vibrant reimagining of one of America's most beloved literary figures.
©2016 J. Aaron Sanders (P)2016 Penguin Audio
I managed to finish this story because I enjoy historical fiction. I even understand the author's purpose in describing the horror of grave robbery in such detail. I see the story's relevance in the correlation between the resistance to the dissection of the human body before the 20th century and stem cell research in our own time, but I hated the detail Bramhall went into in describing the mortification of decay order to make his point. I think I was just too squeamish for this novel.
Yes. I was grabbed by the story/mystery. I loved the setting and historical details--1843 NYC.
Walt and Henry's relationship. The dedication of the doctors is also inspiring.
Walt Whitman--I enjoy his poetry but knew little about his life.
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