"CSI meets the Age of Reason with a well-drawn, intriguing cast of characters" (Karen Harper) in Tessa Harris' superbly plotted historical mystery series, featuring 18th-century anatomist and pioneering sleuth Dr. Thomas Silkstone.
In the notorious mental hospital known as Bedlam, Dr. Thomas Silkstone seeks out a patient with whom he is on intimate terms. But he is unprepared for the state in which he finds Lady Lydia Farrell. Shocked into action, Thomas vows to help free Lydia by appealing to the custodian of her affairs, Mr. Nicholas Lupton.
But when Silkstone arrives at the Boughton Estate to speak to Lupton, he finds that sweeping changes threaten to leave many villagers destitute. After a man dies in the woods, it appears that someone has turned to murder to avenge their cause. But for Thomas, a postmortem raises more questions than answers, and a second murder warns him of his potentially fatal situation. Soon he discovers a conspiracy far more sinister than anything he has ever faced.
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10 hours of frustration coming to a ludicrous end
A let down
I doubt it, which is a pity. After reading The Lazarus Curse, I had high hopes for this novel. Harris does her historical research and chooses cutting edge topics -- the slave trade in the UK, enclosures. Unlike the first Thomas Silkstone mystery, however, this one asks the reader to believe in a protagonist who is smart enough to solve mysteries but naive enough not to see the obvious deceptions in characters around him. Over and over Silkstone enters into a scene with a villain only to be hoodwinked again. Tedious stuff; maybe his naivete is supposed to signify a "hero." It doesn't work. The ending was a drag and tedious as well; I could have predicted it from a mile off.
I think Harris got tired of him, as did I.
Vance does a good job with all the male characters; his ventriloquized female voice is a little too breathy and high pitched to be believed. I ended up wishing Lydia would just be quiet (not his fault so much as the author's, who gives us a giddy fool for a heroine who is, like her lover, hoodwinked at every turn).
I'd say no, though I was interested to hear more about the enclosures. In the end I stuck it out, but not quite sure why -- the black and white good vs. evil is a bit much to take. In retrospect there was some of that in The Lazarus Curse, but not so heavy-handed and the plot / historical flavor was much better done.
I would recommend The Lazarus Curse -- interesting historical moment at any rate.