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Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: The Anatomy of Death by Felicity Young

My Rating: 95/100

From GoodReads: 

A woman. A doctor. A beastly science.

At the turn of the twentieth century, London's political climate is in turmoil, as women fight for the right to vote. Dody McCleland has her own battles to fight. As England's first female autopsy surgeon, she must prove herself as she also proves that murder treats everyone equally...

After a heated women's rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered. When she examines the body, Dody is shocked to realise that the victim was a friend of her sister - fuelling her determination to uncover the cause of the protester's suspicious death.

For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living - especially Chief Detective Inspector Matthew Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone - including Dody. Determined to earn Pike's trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets. But if she's not careful, she may end up on her own examination table.

First thoughts? 

There are two story lines entwined in this story: the murder mystery and the women's suffrage movement in England before WWI.  Dody McCleland recently finished medical school and the only position available to her is as a part-time Medical Examiner, utilizing the burgeoning forensic science methods that are starting to become popular.  Women were not granted staff priviledges at hospitals other than the women's hospital, so for Dody this is a grand opportunity.  Dody's sister Florence is prominent in the suffrage movement, so although Dody is some what sympathetic she doesn't condone some of the tactics used by both the women's groups and the government.

While trying to solve the murder of a prominent suffragette, the reader is granted access to the inner workings of the movement, along with it's scary moments.  In case you were not aware, women who imprisoned for marching would often go on hunger strikes.  So as not to lose face, the prison would institute force feeding, a scene of this nature is described in the book.  My goodness!  I don't even know what to say, except these were very brave souls.

While reading this story, at times I felt as those this book was more about the movement than it was about the mystery.  Also, there was not much medical examining going on either.  A lot of time was spent setting up this series, because we learn about Dody, her sister and their background, as well as Inspector Pike.  He is someone I want to learn more about.  All of the characters were interesting and I felt like I good a good baseline to work with.

Again this story didn't have much mystery or medical stuff, but I still enjoyed it.  I guess that speaks to the author's ability for creating a good story even if some of the elements are lacking.  I felt the London fog, and stench of the tenements.  I felt scared while the women walked the streets at night.  Maybe if the story was longer, the author would have added some more medical elements.


Yes, because it was an interesting, easy breezy read, and brought the suffrage movement back to mind.  Those women deserve to be remembered.  The story was quick and the pages flew by.  Just know the mystery is not much.  Hopefully this will be rectified in the next book, now that Dody has her Inspector to work with.  All Ladies need an Inspector, and vice versa!

Would I change anything? 

Yes, add more mystery and medical examining please!

This book was recommended by several bloggers, but I am sorry to say I can't find my notes on who exactly.  So thank you to those recommended this to me :)

Publisher: Berkley Trade
Genre: Mystery, Historical fiction
Paperback, 320 pages
Book Source: borrowed from the library

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