The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry


Edinburgh, 1847. City of Medicine, Money, Murder.

Young women are being discovered dead across the Old Town, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. In the New Town, medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprenticeship with the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson.

Simpson’s patients range from the richest to the poorest of this divided city. His house is like no other, full of visiting luminaries and daring experiments in the new medical frontier of anaesthesia. It is here that Raven meets housemaid Sarah Fisher, who recognises trouble when she sees it and takes an immediate dislike to him. She has all of his intelligence but none of his privileges, in particular his medical education.

With each having their own motive to look deeper into these deaths, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld, where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to make it out alive.

A vivid and gripping historical crime novel set in 19th century Edinburgh, from husband-and-wife writing team Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman

My Review

This book was brought further into life for me as I was up in Edinburgh last week on holiday so it seemed the perfect time to bring it forward to the top of my skyscraper of a TBR pile!! And also, today is publication day for this gem of a book 🥂

Having done some of the touristy things we went and saw the Edinburgh Dungeons and The Real Mary King’s Close tour to see the rooms, streets and spaces underneath the famous Royal Mile, and Edinburgh’s only preserved 17th century street, so even though that was 2 centuries further back in time to when this novel is set it still went a massive way to bringing the past even further into my cozy reading chair!!

Set in 1840’s Edinburgh, when Edinburgh led the world in the field of medicine, in both medical practices and procedures and also pioneering drugs and anaesthetics.

As well as being a historical medical thriller it also brings to life Dr Simpson who was a real, pioneering figure of the time. Wanting to find better drugs and anaesthetics for his patients we get some great scenes of the research done by these medical practitioners of old which included nights spent with some of the city’s top surgeons sitting round the dinner table sampling various substances looking to find the perfect anaesthetic!!

Dr Simpson makes his discovery of chloroform following some of these sampling sessions 😂

The plot is simply brilliant full of twists and turns, and some great characters, especially Sarah and Raven. They stole the show for me. Will Raven is a young medical student recently apprenticed to Dr Simpson and Sarah, a housemaid for Dr Simpson who has her own ambitions to work in medicine herself, despite their being little opportunity to do so for those born the ‘inferior sex’ as well as her social status.

When a couple of young women are found dead in similar suspicious circumstances,  Sarah and Raven take it upon themselves to investigate the deaths as they both fear a more unscrupulous doctor operating illegally and naturally their investigations lead them into a whole host of trouble!

The medical reality in 1847 is horrifically compelling with some fairly narly procedures described throughout the book but they haven’t just been thrown in for a gross out factor, they serve a purpose and bring the story further to life.

Blending a historical tale with an intriguing mystery and even a little splash of romance this book really does have something for everyone.

If you are a fan of historical fiction or maybe interested in medical procedures and their histories you really don’t want to miss this book. I will go as far as to say that this is by far, hands down, the best historical fiction book you will read this year!!

And now for the cherry on top of the cake – It’s the first in a new series 😍 The only downside to that is the wait for the sequel to hit the shelves 😭

I’m already looking forward to it and can’t wait!!

And if you need an even bigger cherry on top to read this book, well apparently there are already rumours flying around that it is set to become a tv series starring Benedict Cumberbatch!! 🙀

The Way of All Flesh was published today 30th Aug 18 and you can grab a copy now below.

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