It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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Shelia DeChantal hosts a weekly book meme that hosts a link tool so avid readers can post their  blog links. It is also where you just may find your next book.

In the past, I participated now and then in this meme. When I had transitioned over from one blog platform to WordPress, I had decided to keep it real and not take part in memes, but of late, in truth, I have an urge to chat about a good book that I have enjoyed since I do talk about books with my mum and others. I won’t do this all the time, just only when the mood strikes.

Recently I finished this terrific read:

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(image from Goodreads)

Through Shelia I found a few, great book bloggers to follow, like Cleo of Cleopatra Loves Books. She is a big fan of mystery and psychological thrillers. In mid-September she mentioned the Dr. Dody McCleland series by Felicity Young. Whenever a book blogger mentions a book, I usually have my Goodreads account open so I can check out the book first. If I like how it sounds, I see if my library has the eBook or the paperback and then add that version to GR.

Now for a series, I do not like to read one out of order. I was in the mood for a mystery so I requested The Anatomy of Death.

As stated on Goodreads:

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, not only must she prove herself, she must prove 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 McCleland is shocked to realize that the victim was a friend of her sister–fueling her determination to uncover the cause of the protestor’s suspicious death.

For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living–especially Chief Detective Inspector 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.

Setting: Whenever I’ve read a story set in London, it’s usually about opulence and fashion besides attraction – yes, the Regency romances. However, this time I felt London was gritty. With the drive for gender equality, citizens of all classes were either for or against women having rights. People really got worked up either way. Yelling or the throwing of objects were commonplace. And just imagining the conditions of the morgue, autopsy room, and prison during that time, I felt like I could feel the weight of the stench and squalor.

Characters: The suffragettes were passionate. I could imagine straight spines and heads held high as they demonstrated and spoke to the public. Dr. Dody McCleland, who loved her profession and field, was a polar opposite where she was generally calm and thought things through logically. This woman was open to learning. The police was a mixed bag as I didn’t quite know where the corruption of murder lay. Inspector Pike was more in the forefront of the investigation but he knew everything wasn’t black and white and had a good balance of the gray.

Story: There was an underlying phrase that stuck with me throughout the reading of this book: Mortui vivos docent – the dead teach the living. It’s striking, yeah? When we don’t know who the murderer is, it‘s becomes all about the clues left behind, especially with the victim/corpse. It makes me think of a story map where Lady Catherine is laid out in the middle and then from her body, lines are drawn out to circles. Each circle represents a clue, either from the evidence left on her body or from the scene of the crime to the people involved. I didn’t guess who the murderer was. I was totally surprised.

Conclusion: While this murder mystery is not a brutal, bloody sort like most modern ones, the refined sorting and searching of clues was counterbalanced by the strong opinions of the women’s movement and society’s reaction to it. I give The Anatomy of Death four stars.

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5 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What are you reading?

  1. ooh, what a really thoughtful review! I love mysteries, but I hate gore… the older I get, the less stomach I have for grisly murders, which almost always seem to be about horrible deaths of young women… I’ll have to keep an eye out for this book.

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  2. This sounds like a book I would enjoy and also my daughter. When I was in my 20’s I used to assist pathologists with the autopsies at the hospital where I worked. No one else wanted to do it but I was fascinated by all things medical and scientific. I think this series would be right up my alley. Thank you!

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