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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris

Title: The Anatomist's Apprentice 
Author: Tessa Harris
ISBN:   978-0-7582-6698-9
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date:  Jan 1, 2012
Pages:  310
Format: Paperback
How I Read It: From my personal library 
Rating:  3 Crowns 

Synopsis: The death of Lord Edward Crick has unleashed a torrent of gossip throughout Oxfordshire. No one mourns the dissolute young man--except his sister, Lady Lydia Farrell. When her husband comes under suspicion of murder, Lydia seeks expert help from Dr. Thomas Silkstone, a young anatomist from Philadelphia.

Thomas arrived in England to study to study under its foremost surgeon, where his unconventional methods only add to his outsider status.  Against his better judgement he agrees to examine Edward's corpse.  But it is not only the dead, but also the living, to whom he must apply the keen blade of his intellect. And the deeper the doctor's investigations go, the greater the risk that he will be consigned to the ranks of the corpses he studies....

My Thoughts: This mystery opens with the horrid death of Lord Edward Crick, an odious young man disliked by many.  While not many mourn his passing the gruesome manner in which he died does not sit well with at least one person-his sister Lady Lydia Farrell.  Interestingly enough, her husband Irish charmer (and soon to be revealed total cad) Captain Michael Farrell is doing everything in his power to lead the police to the conclusion that there was no foul play involved in the death.  Of course this looks suspicious because he stands to inherit the whole estate.  Lady Lydia refuses to let the matter die and enlists the help of Dr. Silkstone-an American currently residing in England who is up and coming in the field of anatomy.  Lady Lydia enlists his help to determine exactly what caused her brother's death.  Once the word is out that he is involved in the case, Dr. Silkstone becomes a target himself as someone will stop at nothing to make sure the secrets surrounding Edward's death are never revealed.

I really liked the exploration of this crime through Dr. Silkstone and his use of anatomy.  The description of the bodies and techniques used were well done.  The mystery surrounding the death of Lord Edward unfolded at a rather fast pace and soon spun off in many directions.  Harris points the finger rather early on at Lady Lydia's husband Michael and also at his shady associate Mr. Lavington and she paints them as such completely unlikable people that it is quite plausible that these two were involved.  But how exactly?  As the investigation continues Harris skillfully adds other suspects and possible motivations for the death.  It is left for Dr. Silkstone and his evidence to sort it all out. 

The author did a good enough job of providing enough possible outcomes for Edward's death that I did not figure out who the murderer was or the real reason behind it until the very end.  The mystery itself I enjoyed.  The main issue I had with the book was character development.  I didn't really get a good sense for any of the characters and wish there had been more build up for all of them but especially Dr. Silkstone.  Also as usual I had trouble with the romance angle in this book.  There is constant reference to the beauty of Lady Lydia and while her husband may not treat her well at all, the minute suspicion is cast upon him Lady Lydia's beautiful eyes turn toward another.  I ended up not liking her character much for this reason which made it hard for me to sympathize with her over her brother's death or anything else that occurred in the novel.  What I did see from Dr. Silkstone in this novel I liked.  He is smart and caring (he always has time to humor his mentor who he took over the practice for who is now blind and can no longer do the work he loves) and who doesn't love a handsome science nerd?  I think I will continue with the next installment because I want to see more of this character.  I liked this one but I think I would have loved had the cast of characters been stronger.

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Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to how a "Sir Edward"'s sister could possibly be "Lady Lydia" - are they half-siblings, and she's an Earl's daughter? Otherwise she would have been a "Miss" before marriage, and "Mrs" after. Surely?


Mystica said...

This sounds very good.

Holly said...

Good question. I got the synopsis from Amazon where the character is referred to as Sir Edward Crick. Edward and Lydia are children of an Earl so the issue appears to be the proper form of address for Edward. As an Earl's daughter, Lady Lydia would be the correct form of address. I no longer have the book in my possession to check for how the character is referred to in the synopsis there but I did check the author's website where she does refer to him correctly as Lord Crick in the description she has posted there. I'm not sure how the erroneous title ended up in the Amazon description but I have corrected my review to refer to him as Lord Edward. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, good.:) I thought it sounded really interesting, but I found it worrisome if the author got something wrong that I, who am in no way whatsoever an expert, knew to be wrong. Amazon reviews are another matter.:) Anyway, it's a relief, and thanks for replying, as I now can put the book on my wishlist.:)