Eighteenth-century anatomist Dr. Thomas Silkstone travels to the English countryside to unravel a tangled web of mystery, medicine, and murder in this captivating new novel from Tessa Harris.
A man staggers out of his cottage into the streets of Oxfordshire, shattering an otherwise peaceful evening with the terrible sight of his body shaking and heaving, eyes wild with horror. Many of the villagers believe the devil himself has entered Joseph Makepeace, the latest victim of a "great fog" that darkens the skies over England like a biblical plague. When Joseph's son and daughter are found murdered - their heads bashed in by a shovel - the town's worst suspicions are confirmed: Evil is abroad, and needs to be banished.
A brilliant man of science, Dr. Thomas Silkstone is not one to heed superstition. But when he arrives at the estate of the lovely widow Lady Lydia Farrell, he finds that it's not just her grain and livestock at risk. A shroud of mystery surrounds Lydia's lost child, who may still be alive in a workhouse. A natural disaster fills the skies with smoke and ash, clogging the lungs of all who breathe it in. And the grisly details of a father's crime compel Dr. Silkstone to look for answers beyond his medical books - between the devil and the deep blue sea.
©2013 Tessa Harris (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Voracious reader since age 2. I give unbiased reviews in all genres: history, mystery, bios, crime, sci-fi - from front to BLACK!
I can't say enough good things about the Dr. Thomas Silkstone stories. I downloaded this one without even reading the synopsis. Last year, I read Harris first book in this series and was blown away. I immediately downloaded the second one. Again, a great book. It's been about 6 months and I stumbled upon her latest book by accident (I wish Audible.com would implement a way that Members can be notified when favorite authors have a new release). "The Devil's Breath" is outstanding. Dr. Thomas Silkstone continues to be a well-developed character. We get a good understanding of the leading edge of what would eventually become good medical practices (not guess work, superstition, bleeding, and/or forms of witchcraft) and the advent of forensic medicine. Plus the deadly catastrophic event which kills many people during this era is a little known natural disaster that reared its ugly head again in THIS millennium! That is the true villain here. You will be shocked and frightened because it can happen again!
I can't wait for book #4 in this series, due out in June in print form. Get on it, Audible - don't make YOUR Members wait too long for the audiobook! Tessa Harris has devoted fans who are ready to buy the next Dr. Silkstone book as soon as it is released! I hope this will be a 20+ book series!
The book was worth getting, but it's probably not one I'll listen to a second time as I might re-read a book. While the concept of a killer fog is quite good (and historically accurate), the doctor seems to be rather slow on the uptake on much of it. Also, the heroine is again notable for her incredible lack of backbone.
It's worth getting if one is interested in historical mystery/ fiction. But it could be a lot better with less transparent villains and a stronger female character. The idea that one can instantly love a child one never knew for 6 years is a bit hard to believe.
The mentor managing to slip both the formula and a sample of the drug to the doctor in the midst of an arrest.
possibly, if the characters were strengthened.
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
The narration by Simon Vance was very good I have no quarrel with his performance.
However, this series seems to have peaked with book one. Because I enjoyed the first book in the series I bought the second but it was a DNF for me due to a meandering plot with characters who were not particularly interesting. Now I am giving up on the third for much the same reason.
The year is 1783 and Dr. Thomas Silkstone is set to visit his lover, Lady Lydia in Oxfordshire. Meanwhile, a volcanic explosion in Iceland and and unusual weather pattern was causing an ash cloud to settle over eastern Europe with an disastrous effect on the weather, the health of outdoor workers and agriculture. The volcanic eruption is historical although it never got much attention until the much smaller eruption in 2010 of the same volcanic complex caused a disruption in air travel.
While statistical examination of mortalities in England in 1783-84 shows a significant increase that could not all be explained by the unusually hot summer weather of 1783 or the very cold winter that followed, it's rather hard to imagine the dramatic respiratory deaths described by the author due to the presence of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere related to the release of volcanic gases.
Dr. Silkstone is busy examining the bodies of servants who have died from the volcano while various other subplots are worked out, some related to the two prior books. The melodramatic subplots would have been quite welcome in 18th century novels, but honestly with Silkstone and his party repeatedly arriving just oo late after a sinister seeming notary acting for another party, I just gave up finding that I didn't really care what happened to Lady Lydia or any of her dependents and relatives.
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