and dissolute Lord Edward Crick has died suddenly from possible
poisoning, or was it merely a reaction to his medicine for
the pox? His sister Lady Lydia is keen to discover what happened
and prevent rumors from circulating about her husband, the
dashing but previously impoverished Captain Michael Farrell.
In order to do this she needs somebody who can look at the
body and find out how her brother died. Forensics is a very
new science and practiced by few, but Dr. Thomas Silkstone
is one of the new breed of anatomists and willing to help.
Trouble is it might be the last thing he does.
Set in 1780 this first entry in a new series is the forerunner
to all those books and TV series where forensics solves the
crime. Thomas is lately come from Philadelphia with pioneering
new knowledge and is under the tutelage (and sharing the lodgings)
of Dr. Carruthers, another such practitioner before he lost
his sight. What follows is an intriguing look at the early
days of this science, as well as what initially looks like
an open and shut case but is anything but. Paired with all
this is a good look at life in the last 18th century with
all its sights, smells and current affairs, a time when medicine
was crude, Americans fighting for independence and hangings
a popular attraction. There is a love story in here too, but
fortunately although it is a part of the plot it is not allowed
to overshadow the mystery and forensics. The latter makes
for some gory but fascinating reading as Thomas uses his limited
resources to discover whodunit and how. In short there is
a lot in here to appeal, plenty of surprises and a good way
to find out about the first uses of forensic science in crime
solving. The best news is that this is just the first book;
I look forward to more.