The Way of All Flesh

The Way of All Flesh

A vivid and gripping historical crime novel set in 19th century Edinburgh, from husband-and-wife writing team Chris Brookmyre and Marisa HaetzmanEdinburgh, 1847. City of Medicine, Money, Murder.Young women are being discovered dead across the Old Town, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. In the New Town, medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprentices...

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Title:The Way of All Flesh
Author:Ambrose Parry
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Edition Language:English

The Way of All Flesh Reviews

  • Paromjit

    This is a deliciously atmospheric piece of historical crime fiction from the husband and wife authors, Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman, set in Victorian Edinburgh, a city split between the poverty stricken and dark underbelly of the Old Town and the more genteel wealthy households of New Town. This is a story about Edinburgh's heyday as the prominent player in its contributions towards the progress of medicine intertwined with the murder of young women, prostitutes, deemed to be of little co

    This is a deliciously atmospheric piece of historical crime fiction from the husband and wife authors, Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman, set in Victorian Edinburgh, a city split between the poverty stricken and dark underbelly of the Old Town and the more genteel wealthy households of New Town. This is a story about Edinburgh's heyday as the prominent player in its contributions towards the progress of medicine intertwined with the murder of young women, prostitutes, deemed to be of little consequence, unworthy of any real investigation. It is 1847, a penniless and indebted Will Raven has secured a much sought after apprentice position with the well known Dr Simpson, specialising in midwifery and anaesthesia. Shocked after stumbling on the dead body of his friend, Evie, a prostitute, he is badly beaten and cut by the thugs of a moneylender when he arrives to live at the Simpson household. Needless to say, he makes a poor impression on some members of the household that include the young resentful Sarah Fisher, a bright and intelligent housemaid with aspirations for a career in medicine that is denied to her by society's misogyny and her poverty.

    Edinburgh abounds with quacks, charlatans and snake oil salesman willing to peddle their dangerous practices and wares on a desperate public. Amidst the medical community there are daring experiments run by men, often ruthless and arrogant, brutal and uncaring of the people they experiment on. Driven by a need to acquire wealth and build their reputations, it is barely surprising that so many are corrupted by their power over ordinary mortal souls with nowhere else to go. In that respect, Raven is fortunate that Simpson is driven by the need to improve the gruesome medical practices in midwifery and to alleviate the unspeakable pain experienced by women in childbirth. We see the good doctor discover and implement the use of chloroform in the profession. Many doctors believe that it is natural for the patient to experience pain and it goes against nature to provide pain relief. I believe their beliefs would shift remarkably quickly if they were the ones on the receiving end of their brutal and excruciating practices. Then there are the male religious voices, claiming that God wants women to undergo painful childbirth and to provide an anaesthetic is to go against God. Sarah and Raven overcome their initial difficulties to join forces to investigate who is behind the growing number of dead women when no-one else will, only to find themselves in deadly danger.

    The authors give us an atmospheric and richly described picture of the dark arts and science behind the breakthroughs made in 19th century Edinburgh amidst a background of a medical profession that was not always keen to adhere to the best interests of their patients. We are not spared the gruesome horrors of what people had to undergo in the hands of these powerful doctors, this includes the malignant abortionists taking advantage of poorer women with impunity. Sarah and Mina, whilst on different ends of the social strata, nevertheless epitomise just how powerless women were in their inability to choose their path in life, or even have control over their bodies. This novel does a brilliant job in providing such a great sense of time and location, giving an authentic glimpse of the state of medicine in the period, with all the tension and suspense of murder. The characterisation and development of Will Raven and Sarah Fisher was done well and with great skill as I found both of them utterly compelling as people. I look forward with great anticipation for the next in this series. Highly recommended! Many thanks to Canongate for an ARC.

  • Beata

    This novel gripped me! Edinborough, 1840s, poor people, rich people and medical experiments in search of a new medicament. And, a murder or two, naturally. The debut is fantastic! The Authors recreated the atmosphere of the city, were very particular regarding social details and introduced two main characters who, I'm sure will reappear in another novel very soon. Thanks to all my GR friends whose reviews encouraged me to read The Way of All Flesh! :)

    *I submitted a full review to Netgally in exc

    This novel gripped me! Edinborough, 1840s, poor people, rich people and medical experiments in search of a new medicament. And, a murder or two, naturally. The debut is fantastic! The Authors recreated the atmosphere of the city, were very particular regarding social details and introduced two main characters who, I'm sure will reappear in another novel very soon. Thanks to all my GR friends whose reviews encouraged me to read The Way of All Flesh! :)

    *I submitted a full review to Netgally in exchange for ARC for which I'm deeply grateful.*

  • Maureen

    Edinburgh 1847, a time when ruthless medical experiments were being carried out, quite often by the unscrupulous, those whose patients were of no consequence, who’s lives mattered little when set against the desire for fame and fortune.

    Against this backdrop, Will Raven secures himself an apprenticeship with the much respected obstetrician Doctor Simpson.

    The story begins with the suspicious death of Will’s prostitute friend Evie, but her death ( as we are about to find out) is only just the begin

    Edinburgh 1847, a time when ruthless medical experiments were being carried out, quite often by the unscrupulous, those whose patients were of no consequence, who’s lives mattered little when set against the desire for fame and fortune.

    Against this backdrop, Will Raven secures himself an apprenticeship with the much respected obstetrician Doctor Simpson.

    The story begins with the suspicious death of Will’s prostitute friend Evie, but her death ( as we are about to find out) is only just the beginning!

    Will is determined to discover who killed Evie and along with his sidekick, housemaid Sarah, he is dragged into Edinburgh’s very dark and seamy underbelly.

    The author has brought 19th century Edinburgh very much to life, in particular, the medical experiments of this period. Descriptions of medical procedures won’t be for everyone, particularly those involving difficult births, these proved to be particularly gruesome, and remember, this was a time when these procedures were carried out without the use of anaesthetics! Although some doctors were experimenting with ether and chloroform, Scotland’s religious leaders were denouncing such methods as going against God.

    I must say, I found our two main protagonists to be very engaging, and descriptions of Old Edinburgh with it’s cobbled streets and dark and dirty alleyways, along with some really fascinating facts , lent great atmosphere to the proceedings.

    The writing flowed effortlessly, and this would have been a 5 star read for me, had the crime not taken something of a backseat in favour of the medical research at times. However, once the crime took centre stage again, the pace was relentless and I certainly found it to be an interesting and enjoyable read.

    * Thank you to Netgalley and Canongate for an ARC. I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange *

  • Linda

    "Science never solves a problem without creating ten more." (George Bernard Shaw)

    It's the winter of 1847 in Edinburgh. Medical science seems to pounce upon new and innovative means of so-called advancements. Avant-garde, experimental methods are in both the hands of the charlatans and in the hands of the highly skilled. Your social status, unfortunately, will determine whose hands will guide your fate.

    Will Raven, a young medical apprentice, quickly closes the door of Evie's room. Until this mome

    "Science never solves a problem without creating ten more." (George Bernard Shaw)

    It's the winter of 1847 in Edinburgh. Medical science seems to pounce upon new and innovative means of so-called advancements. Avant-garde, experimental methods are in both the hands of the charlatans and in the hands of the highly skilled. Your social status, unfortunately, will determine whose hands will guide your fate.

    Will Raven, a young medical apprentice, quickly closes the door of Evie's room. Until this moment, Evie was a young woman who sold her wares for a determined price. Although engaging, at times, in Evie's trade, Will became friends with the young woman. When she appeared frightened over a debt, Will took on some unseemingly bad loans on the street in order to help her himself. Behind that closed door now lay a lifeless Evie on the floor with a liquor bottle next to her. Was it the drink or something else that opened death's door to the unfortunate Evie?

    Ambrose Parry presents a well-researched glimpse into medical practices during the Victorian era. Over zealous physicians tended to experiment on the old and the young. A life of privilege would provide access to the latest developments. However, even societal mavens would suffer a painful end because of the lack of precisement in dosage and a rush for doctors to engage in experimental practices in order to appear at the top of their profession. Heaven help the poor whose lives held little to no value.

    Parry introduces the readers to Sarah Fisher, housemaid extraordinaire, who sidelines for her employer, the renowned Dr. James Simpson. Dr. Simpson allows Sarah to pursue her highly evolved interest in herbs and salves. She is adept at working with his patients within his at-home practice. It is here that Will becomes taken with Sarah as he pursues his apprenticeship under Dr. Simpson.

    Soon other young women are found dead in Old Town. Several have disappeared without a trace. Will tells Sarah about Evie and they both combine their efforts into finding out what happened to these unfortunate women.

    The Way of All Flesh is a smart, highly entertaining read with eye-opening views into medical practices of the time period. It is my hope that Ambrose Parry will give consideration to turning this into a forthcoming series. After all, nothing like an intelligent woman with the skills of a Madame Currie on the horizon.......

    I received a copy of The Way of All Flesh through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Canongate Books and to Ambrose Parry for the opportunity.

  • Annet

    What a pleasant surprise this book! Great historical crime fiction read, very well written, full of atmosphere and details of Edinburgh in the year 1847. I actually picked this book up at Waterstones Edinburgh recently, they did of course promote it extra as a local book, upfront in the store in stacks, but rightly so, I was not disappointed!

    More later, for those who like the combination of crime and history, this is a really good book!

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