The first book I have read of this author. And how much I loved it. History, knowledge in early study of medicine, mystery, bit of romance, all are here. My only complaint is the book ends so abruptly.
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I wish I could share the love for this book that's being expressed by the majority of early reviewers. Unfortunately, while there are certainly some glowing aspects to this story, I didn't enjoy the overall execution.
I'll start with the pros:
The research is impressive. From the major issues right down to the minor details, I felt like I was there in 19th century Edinburgh. We see some fascinating and appalling aspects of early medical treatments, particularly regarding women's care. Most of the characters are well developed and interesting.
Now for the stuff I consider cons:
The writing style becomes tedious, with long-winded narration and repetition. We are beat over the head with certain aspects, such as Sarah's desire to break out of her role as housemaid and Raven's desperation to fit in with the upper class. The repetition lessened my emotional response and dramatically slowed the story's pace.
Given the book's description and marketing, I expected a historical crime story. But the murders are immensely overshadowed by the medical pursuits and relationship dynamics. This is far more a historical drama about doctors and their treatment of patients than it is a crime story. The storyline about the murders is quite thin. Consequently, by the time we get around the the killer and the big reveal, it isn't a surprise at all.
If you enjoy historical drama, then you'll probably love this book. If you're looking for a faster paced historical crime novel, this might not be it.
*I received a copy from the publisher, via Amazon Vine, in exchange for my honest review.*
"The Way of All Flesh," by Chris Brookmyre and his wife, Dr. Marisa Haetzman, who collaborate under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry, is set in Edinburgh in 1847. Nineteen-year-old Will Raven is the product of a dysfunctional family. Although he has limited prospects, Will is studying medicine and much to his relief, has landed a position as an apprentice to the acclaimed Dr. James Simpson. Highborn expectant mothers are willing to pay a handsome fee to be cared for by the well-regarded Dr. Simpson. Unlike many of his peers, this physician is neither self-serving nor greedy; he regularly offers his services to the poor for free.
Alas, Will Raven is a troubled young man with a penchant for getting into trouble. After a close friend, Evie Lawson, begs him for two guineas, he unwisely borrows it from a "cut-throat usurer" named Flint. Will has no means to repay the loan, and when it comes due, Flint's violent henchmen come after him. In addition, when Will discovers that prostitutes are dying under mysterious circumstances, he launches his own investigation to find out who is killing them and why. Another key character is an intelligent and outspoken housemaid, Sarah Fletcher, who is interested in anatomy, chemistry, and pharmacology. At first, Will and Sarah grate on one another's nerves, but they later join forces to foil a cold-blooded villain.
Parry’s Edinburgh is a place of "public decorum and private sin, city of a thousand secret selves." Moreover, doctors and surgeons in the mid-nineteenth century did not consistently follow the dictum, "Do no harm." In their eagerness to concoct new potions--including a safer and more effective anesthetic--some practitioners experimented on themselves and others, heedless of the dangers involved. The authors explore the evils of avarice, sexism, and religious intolerance, and emphasize the unbridgeable gap between the haves and have-nots. The plot incorporates a touch of romance and a promise of further adventures to come. Will is just beginning to realize that he must rein in his tendency to lash out if he is to become a mature and competent person worthy of respect. "The Way of All Flesh" is a bit too long and concludes with a predictable and melodramatic finale. Nevertheless, this is a compelling and colorful novel, the descriptive writing is first-rate, and Parry whets our appetite for the next installment in what promises to be an absorbing series.