The brilliant anatomist Dr. Thomas Silkstone returns in the second installment of Tessa Harris' vivid and compelling mystery series set in 1780s London.
It is not just the living who are prey to London's criminals and cutpurses. Corpses, too, are fair game - dug up from fresh graves and sold to unscrupulous men of science. Dr. Thomas Silkstone abhors such methods, but his leading rival, Dr. John Hunter, has learned of the imminent death of eight-foot-tall Charles Byrne - known as the "Irish Giant" - and will go to any lengths to obtain the body for his research.
Thomas intends to see that Byrne is allowed to rest in peace, but his efforts are complicated when his betrothed, Lady Lydia Farrell, breaks off their engagement without explanation. When Dr. Hunter is implicated in the horrific murder of a young castrato, Thomas must determine how far the increasingly erratic surgeon will go in the name of knowledge. For as Thomas knows too well, the blackest hearts sometimes go undetected - and even an unblemished façade can hide terrifying secrets.
Tessa Harris, an English author with a history degree from Oxford University, spent years working for women’s magazines. She is regularly heard on local BBC radio and over the years has interviewed such people as Margaret Thatcher, Jeffrey Archer, Anthony Hopkins, Susan Hampshire, Alan Titchmarsh, Jackie Stewart, Boris Johnson, and Uri Geller.
"Outstanding…. Well-rounded characters, cleverly concealed evidence, and an assured prose style point to a long run for this historical series." (Publishers Weekly)
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I liked catching up with Thomas and his mentor, but this story was too sad. Way too many horrible things happened to really good people. I know that really bad things happen to good people in real life all the time, but in a book that I read for pleasure, I want the people who are wronged to get a least a small amount of justice or compensation. There was absolutely none of that here.
Also the book ended with Thomas' personal life completely unresolved. I felt this book ended where it did just to manipulate me into reading the next book. This type of manipulation is a cheap trick, and totally unnecessary.
When a series is really good, each book stands alone. Think about series such as: Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks books, J.D. Robb's In-Death series, Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James books, Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series, and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Every book in each of these series stands alone, and I read the next book simply because the last one was good, and I got attached to the main characters.
After the first book in this series, I thought : Now here is the possibility for a really wonderful and unusual series. Now after reading the second book, I just feel emotionally jerked around.
No, not at all. There are some truly great books in this genre. No one book could ever turn me off the entire genre.
Although I certainly didn't love this particular book, this series still has really great potential if the author would focus more on the mysteries of early pathology, and the strange ideas that people of that time had about anatomy. What I was really turned off by, was the emphasis on senseless violence and the malevolence of unprincipled people.
I liked when Lydia finally shared her past with Thomas.
The relationship between Thomas and Lydia needs resolution, as well as the personal problem of Lydia's that came out at the very end of this book. As I said: Cheap Trick!
To Tessa Harris, the Author. Trust your writing skills and your ability to develop characters that people can care about. Hook your readers with your writing skills, not cliff hangers.
- Jina H-F
good but not as good as #1