Friday, 3 January 2020

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry is historical crime fiction that blends fact and fiction perfectly to create a compelling read.
About the Author/s
Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The couple are married and live in Scotland. Chris Brookmyre is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of over twenty novels, including Black Widow, winner of both the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this novel was based. The Way of All Flesh is the first book in the series, The Art of Dying is the second in this historical crime series.

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About the book
Edinburgh, 1850. Despite being at the forefront of modern medicine, hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. But it is not just the deaths that dismay the esteemed Dr James Simpson - a whispering campaign seeks to blame him for the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances.

Simpson's protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher are determined to clear their patron's name. But with Raven battling against the dark side of his own nature, and Sarah endeavouring to expand her own medical knowledge beyond what society deems acceptable for a woman, the pair struggle to understand the cause of the deaths.

Will and Sarah must unite and plunge into Edinburgh's deadliest streets to clear Simpson's name. But soon they discover that the true cause of these deaths has evaded suspicion purely because it is so unthinkable.

This is the second book featuring Sarah Fisher and Will Raven. If you haven't read The Way of All Flesh I highly recommend it, however it is worth noting that both books can be read as standalone novels.

A few years have passed since Raven and Fisher solved their first crimes and went their separate ways. For some reason Raven seems to think swanning off to embark on a prestigious path of education for quite some time made time come to a complete standstill where Sarah is concerned. I truly believe he expected to find her still working as a housemaid for Dr Simpson.

Not that it isn't an assumption that wouldn't usually be true of a young woman in that era, however he seems to have forgotten just how ambitious Sarah is. In a way Raven is also guilty of adhering to the patriarchal systems and automatically presuming Sarah will not advance in her own endeavours to educate herself and become part of the medical establishment.

Sarah the housemaid is now Sarah the respectable wife of a man who supports her ambitions and thirst for knowledge. The fact Sarah isn't found pining and waiting awakens Raven to his feelings for her.

This time the two of them are caught up in a malicious campaign to ruin the career of a man they both respect. Little do they know that behind all the whispers something and someone more nefarious lurks.

It's historical crime fiction that blends fact and fiction perfectly to create a compelling read. Parry is right up there with Sansom and Perry, although I would argue that Parry focuses on medical crime of the time period and is less inclined to pull pure political machinations into the plot.

The series is entertaining and riveting, and at times also an intriguing learning experience, which is the best kind of historical fiction.

Buy The Art of Dying at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Canongate Books; pub date 29 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at

Read my review of The Way of All Flesh  Buy The Way of All Flesh

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