I got this book by accident, having re-tweeted @KensingtonBooks when they were doing a pre-release giveaway – and ending up winning a copy as a result …
I’m guessing a lot of people read the blurb for this book and think “OK, Sherlock Holmes meets CSI” and to some degree they’re not far off. The book is a procedural like the TV show, but to categorize it just by those factors does it a disservice.
The author, Tessa Harris, is a scholar and the novel is set squarely in the period she knows well, with levels of detail of the minutae of Victoria-era life that only a historian could bring to a page. What sets the book apart from similar historian-turned-novelist titles is that you can tell she has a passion for the subject – no simple recitation of facts and figures, rather her knowledge brings the entire story to vivid life.
The story is written in the vernacular of the times, making it feel like a story that would have been written *at* the time – that can be tricky to pull off, but she manages it very well, and it doesn’t distract from being absorbed in the story.
Of course, it also means that her descriptions of things that decompose in the night can be somewhat visceral, but even that adds to the feeling of it being “contemporary” to the Victorian era.
The main character, Thomas Silkstone, comes through well – a trainee in what passed for medicine at the time, with some very strong opinions about how medicine could be, should be, used to detect and resolve crimes, is tasked with solving a murder – one for which the establishment (as always) has already made up its mind. Facing skepticism (and violence), he’s got an uphil battle ahead of him – and has ti invent the science that will help lead him to the truth.
Which as always ain’t what you think it is.
This is the first Thomas Silkstone novel, and although I came upon it by accident, it’s definitely got me interested to see what the author’s got in store for us next time.