Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Black Thorn Books for my digital review copy via NetGalley. Do check out the posts by my tour buddies for today, Angi at Books’n’Banter and Amy at The Shelf Of Unread Books.
About the Book
Edinburgh, 1849. Hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. And a campaign seeks to paint Dr James Simpson, pioneer of medical chloroform, as a murderer.
Determined to clear Simpson’s name, his protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher must plunge into Edinburgh’s deadliest streets and find out who or what is behind the deaths. Soon they discover that the cause of the deaths has evaded detection purely because it is so unthinkable.
Format: Paperback (416 pages) Publisher: Black Thorn Books
Publication date: 7th January 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Crime
Find The Art of Dying (Raven, Fisher, and Simpson, #2) on Goodreads
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I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Way of All Flesh, but recall thinking it lacked a little pace, especially in the early part of the book. No such criticism can be levelled at The Art of Dying. The inclusion of that device much beloved by authors of contemporary thrillers – a chilling prologue and occasional chapters by a mystery narrator – inject a real sense of tension. At the same time, The Art of Dying retains all the period atmosphere that was such an admirable feature of its predecessor.
For Will Raven and Sarah Fisher much has changed since the first book. After a year spent studying in Europe, Will is now Dr. Raven and is no longer Dr. James Simpson’s apprentice but his assistant. And Sarah is no longer a servant in the Simpson household but helps Dr. Simpson with the patients who attend his clinic. The changes in her personal life have been no less significant.
However, much has also stayed the same. Will still battles to control ‘the devil inside him’ and his fear he is destined to meet a violent end. Oh, and his return to Edinburgh has not escaped the notice of a rather formidable former enemy. When it comes to the world of medicine however, Will is disappointed to find a reluctance to embrace some of the new surgical practices he learned about during his time abroad. As for Sarah, she still retains her thirst for knowledge and chafes at the constraints she perceives society imposes on independent-minded women like herself who yearn to pursue a career. As she observes, “She was a conundrum, representing a deviation from the norm that seemed to cause a degree of disquiet in the bosoms of those wedded to the notion of a rigorously imposed social hierarchy”.
I’m pleased to say what definitely hasn’t changed is the spark of attraction between Will and Sarah that looked likely to ignite in the first book but was seemingly snuffed out by the then difference in their social status. However, Will and Sarah are united in their feelings of loyalty to Dr. Simpson and are soon engaged in investigating a series of unexplained deaths. Since one of the victims was a patient of Dr. Simpson, it has given rise to accusations of malpractice against him. As their enquiries progress, the reader may believe they know exactly who the culprit is but there are times when it’s wise to wait for a second opinion or to revisit your initial diagnosis.
The Art of Dying is a skilful combination of intricately plotted mystery, engaging leading characters and great period atmosphere. Just what the doctor ordered! In fact, I’m hoping for a repeat prescription before too long.
In three words: Suspenseful, ingenious, atmospheric
Try something similar: The Figure in the Photograph by Kevin Sullivan
About the Authors
Ambrose Parry is the pseudonym of a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The couple are married and live in Scotland.
Chris Brookmyre is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of over twenty novels. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this series, which began with The Way of All Flesh, is based.
The Way of All Flesh was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.
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