The brilliant anatomist Dr. Thomas Silkstone returns in the second installment of Tessa Harris' vivid and compelling mystery series set in 1780s London.
It is not just the living who are prey to London's criminals and cutpurses. Corpses, too, are fair game - dug up from fresh graves and sold to unscrupulous men of science. Dr. Thomas Silkstone abhors such methods, but his leading rival, Dr. John Hunter, has learned of the imminent death of eight-foot-tall Charles Byrne - known as the "Irish Giant" - and will go to any lengths to obtain the body for his research.
Thomas intends to see that Byrne is allowed to rest in peace, but his efforts are complicated when his betrothed, Lady Lydia Farrell, breaks off their engagement without explanation. When Dr. Hunter is implicated in the horrific murder of a young castrato, Thomas must determine how far the increasingly erratic surgeon will go in the name of knowledge. For as Thomas knows too well, the blackest hearts sometimes go undetected - and even an unblemished façade can hide terrifying secrets.
Tessa Harris, an English author with a history degree from Oxford University, spent years working for women’s magazines. She is regularly heard on local BBC radio and over the years has interviewed such people as Margaret Thatcher, Jeffrey Archer, Anthony Hopkins, Susan Hampshire, Alan Titchmarsh, Jackie Stewart, Boris Johnson, and Uri Geller.
©2013 Tessa Harris (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc
"Outstanding…. Well-rounded characters, cleverly concealed evidence, and an assured prose style point to a long run for this historical series." (Publishers Weekly)
Love Historical fiction, 1750 -1950, stories from cold/temperate climates, stories from the British Isles, & physical disability fiction.
I liked catching up with Thomas and his mentor, but this story was too sad. Way too many horrible things happened to really good people. I know that really bad things happen to good people in real life all the time, but in a book that I read for pleasure, I want the people who are wronged to get a least a small amount of justice or compensation. There was absolutely none of that here.
Also the book ended with Thomas' personal life completely unresolved. I felt this book ended where it did just to manipulate me into reading the next book. This type of manipulation is a cheap trick, and totally unnecessary.
When a series is really good, each book stands alone. Think about series such as: Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks books, J.D. Robb's In-Death series, Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James books, Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series, and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Every book in each of these series stands alone, and I read the next book simply because the last one was good, and I got attached to the main characters.
After the first book in this series, I thought : Now here is the possibility for a really wonderful and unusual series. Now after reading the second book, I just feel emotionally jerked around.
No, not at all. There are some truly great books in this genre. No one book could ever turn me off the entire genre.
Although I certainly didn't love this particular book, this series still has really great potential if the author would focus more on the mysteries of early pathology, and the strange ideas that people of that time had about anatomy. What I was really turned off by, was the emphasis on senseless violence and the malevolence of unprincipled people.
I liked when Lydia finally shared her past with Thomas.
The relationship between Thomas and Lydia needs resolution, as well as the personal problem of Lydia's that came out at the very end of this book. As I said: Cheap Trick!
To Tessa Harris, the Author. Trust your writing skills and your ability to develop characters that people can care about. Hook your readers with your writing skills, not cliff hangers.
I especially enjoy historical mysteries. I don't like to know how things end before I begin.
This book is well worth reading but not quite up to the first book. The story kind of peters out at the end.
As soon as I finished Book 1, I downloaded Book 2. Dr. Silkstone continues to pioneer GOOD forensic anatomy. Plus, here he's surrounded by real medical professionals whom existed at the time like Dr. John Hunter, the anatomist who is credited with beginning what we know now as criminal forensic pathology. For some reason, Tessa Harris made the fictional Dr. Silkstone a charming good-looking gentleman while Hunter is a creepy Irish mess who operates outside of the law and the established medical standards of the time. Like the first book, the author keeps the reader off-balance, thinking we know who the villains are but finding more surprises at every turn.
After reading the first in the Dr. Thomas Silkstone mysteries, I quickly picked up the second book and was delighted to find it even better than the first.
The author blends the incredible historical and medical upheaval of the late 1700s with a twisted plot and unique characters to make an extremely readable story. The fact that Dr. Silkstone's crime solving adventures are intertwined with the actual events surrounding the death of "The Irish Giant" Charles Byrne and the theft of his body by the unorthodox but brilliant Dr. John Hunter makes the story all the better. The adage that truth can be stranger than fiction certainly comes to mind!
Simon Vance is the perfect narrator for the story and brings each character to life in a unique way. I would recommend this to mystery fans, historical fiction lovers, and medical science enthusiasts alike. I can't wait to start the next book in the series!
This is a good listen and well told.
The issue of Dr. Hunter could have stuck with history. The murderer being the abortionist would have been more appropriate. If Silkstone had studied under Hunter, Hunter being under suspicion would have increased the mystery and the challenge. It's hard to believe Silkstone would NOT have known Hunter if he studied in London. Silkstone is an American during the Revolution -- yet it's glossed over. Silkstone comes across as a bit unrealistic in his objection to body snatching -- during this period, anyone studying anatomy would have dealt with "resurrection men" providing the bodies. In fact, it would have made for a stronger moral dilemma.
The heroine is pretty hopeless. She clearly has not got the kind of inner strength found in her American contemporaries like Abigail Adams or Martha Washington. Her "secret" is pretty flat too. Give the girl some backbone.
The portion of the giant being harassed while trying to find his girlfriend.
The headline says it all. I know it's fiction and for that reason one must suspend belief, but this one stretched my ability just a little too far. Was "wow" in the vernacular in the late 18th century?
As an anatomist and a person who loves medical history, I loved it.
I really like John Hunter historical facts.
get ready to be surprised.
I read the first book in the series and just loved it. This second book is a major disappointment and has a minimal plot and mystery to it. For some reason the author really wants to tell the story of the Irish Giant - a real person who dies in 1863. You can look up his story on Wikipedia.
This Irish Giant becomes the central point of the story. More time his lavished on his story than that of a murdered Castrato Singer. The Irish Giant is dying and Dr. John Hunter wants his body to dissect him. The book really revolved around the machinations of obtaining his corpse and Dr. Silkstone is trying to prevent that.
Yes we hear about Lydia who nearly dies and the solution to the murder of the singer, but again the author really focuses on The Irish Giant. The others are merely a side show to make the book qualify as a mystery. I was not interested in the Irish Giant and found that this book was not a real mystery but simply a way to tell the story of the Irish Giant. The author admits he was always fascinated by the story of the Giant, thus he inflicted it on his readers in lieu of a really good mystery.
The only thing that saves this book is the narration of Simon Vance which is outstanding. Vance is one of the best narrators in the business and I always enjoy a book he narrates. Too bad he had to read this disaster of a book.
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