Andrew Taylor

The Anatomy of Ghosts

"...a beautifully, sumptuously written crime novel showing the darker side of man.'"


Having recently tragically lost his wife and only child, John Holdsworth is a man at his lowest ebb. His wife having squandered John’s money on charlatans who profess to speak to the dead, Holdsworth finds himself widowed and broke. Selling his small business to keep the wolves from the door he is suddenly given a commission from an unlikely source.

Lady Anne Oldershaw is intrigued by Holdsworth’s small book called ‘The Anatomy of Ghosts’, his thesis on the supernatural, written in anger at the way his dead wife was given false hope. Now Lady Anne, under the guise of asking for his expertise on valuable books wants him to visit her sick son who languishes in a madhouse, his mind twisted by what he claims to have been the ghost of a woman recently found dead in the pond at Jerusalem College.

With many misgivings Holdsworth takes on the task, not realising that he will soon be sucked in to a small world where status matters to each and every man in Jerusalem and where he will meet a woman who may be his very salvation…

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‘The Anatomy of Ghosts’ is a wondrous Gothic tapestry, each strand smoothly and darkly interwoven, presenting a broad portrait of college life in 1786. With a nod to the great Gothic writers like M. R. James, Wilkie Collins, Le Fanu et al, Taylor sets his readers on a journey into the dark passages and passions of this shady time in history. Amongst the dark oak walls and the flickering candle-light, this writer slowly and surely unfolds his dark tale. With great deftness that only a writer of long standing can hope to achieve, Taylor holds the rerader's attention without having to resort to high speed car chases (not really possible in 1786!), nor with any superfluous gory details. It is simply a beautifully, sumptuously written crime novel showing the darker side of man. With uncanny accuracy, Taylor offers his reader the sounds, the smells and tastes of that far-off time when excess was an everyday thing, whilst others starved to death. He also tells of the machinations of men in such a tiny community who could bring about your ascendancy or your destruction. Most of the characters are bigger than life itself, my favourite being Dr. Carbury whose excess and flatulence seemed to know no bounds. And as for John Holdsworth, there finally seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel so that you feel that although some may escape punishment all is well once more with the world. ‘The Anatomy of Ghosts’ is a real luxury; a well crafted feast of a novel with both crime and supernatural themes running through the threads of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found myself craving to go back to it to feel the tingling of my spine as I walked the dark corridors of Jerusalem once more.

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