Monday, 20 June 2022

The Way of All Flesh

 

This is the first in the Raven and Fisher Mystery trilogy.

Edinburgh, 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 apprenticeship with the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson. Simpson’s patients range from the richest to the poorest of this divided city. His house is like no other, full of visiting luminaries and daring experiments in the new medical frontier of anaesthesia. It is here that Raven meets housemaid Sarah Fisher, who recognises trouble when she sees it and takes an immediate dislike to him. She has all of his intelligence but none of his privileges, in particular his medical education. With each having their own motive to look deeper into these deaths, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld, where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to make it out alive.

I was slightly confused when it got to the very end of the book and the credits mentioned Christopher Brookmyre. I saw him at the Cheltenham Literature Festival years ago, with Jasper Fforde. So I went to look this up and apparently: 

Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman.

I found that a fascinating concept that two authors could combine to create an entirely new author. What a wonderful idea. 

I also enjoyed the nod to Barry Lyndon. I mentioned that recently in my review of Thackeray's other work, Vanity Fair. Though I must admit, I was a bit uncertain with the title for this one as I was sure The Way of All Flesh was already quite a famous novel. When I looked it up, it was a 'a semi-autobiographical novel by Samuel Butler.' Apparently it was a satire about the Victorian bourgeois.

There was some great opening descriptive of Gargantua unfolding into this great, hulking henchman. It reminded me so clearly of the blob men unfolding in the animation of Howl's Moving Castle. Very evocative of a visual style. 




Also some nice observations on human nature:

He would simply have to endure it. His time at Herriot's had taught him that sometimes people could take an instinctive or irrational dislike to you, as you could to them. In such instances there was nothing you could do to change that and it proved a fool's errand to try. 

And I smiled at the detailed description of how to make a calotype. They handled it with more grace and economy than I did in Secure the Shadow. It's a lengthy and tricky process, and not easily put to paper. They did it the same way I did, having the expert explain it to the neophyte in a friendly and instructive manor. I suppose the other way you could do it would be to have the expert observe themself making the photograph, but dialogue pulls people in and holds attention much better. Just for kicks, I wonder if you could write it as the photograph becoming aware of its own existence as the latent image strengthens and becomes fixed? An interesting short story, perhaps?

I counted three instances where the main characters were forced into a tight space together, inches apart. I'm not sure whether it was intentionally three - as in, third time lucky - or just a motif that the authors really, really liked. 

All in all though, a good read. Great suspense as Raven is racing to the dinner party. Likable protagonists and a solid whodunnit. 

Sunday, 5 June 2022

The Children of Lir Book Trailer

 

A little book trailer for The Children of Lir. Busy working on the audiobook at the moment. You can pick up the paperback and ebook format here