Ambrose Parry

The Art of Dying

"" elegantly-written, totally readable book which had me reading into the wee small hours.""


It is 1849, and Will Raven has returned to Edinburgh after studying medicine in Europe. He comes back, however, under a cloud, as he has shot and killed a man in Berlin and the Edinburgh he left a few years before is not the Edinburgh to which he has returned. Dr James Simpson, to whom he was formerly apprenticed, is being falsely accused of causing the death of a patient, and Sarah, former housemaid in the Simpson household, is now married, even though Will had previously formed an emotional attachment to her.

Will and Sarah soon join forces to prove Dr Simpson's innocence. However, they also begin investigating a series of unexplained deaths in the city. They discover that they have been committed by a nurse called Mary Dempster (there is no secrecy about the perpetrator) who had been nursing the victims through an illness. But where is she? What poison did she use? And - most importantly - what is her motive? They enlist the help of Mary's sister, Martha and set out to find and stop her. Meanwhile, as a subplot, Dr Simpson has engaged the services of a secretary, James Quintin, to put his affairs in order, and he and Will soon clash.

Will and Sarah uncover the cause of the deaths, and the motive behind them- a motive that shocks them, and Dr Simpson, to the core?

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Ambrose Parry is the pen name of Christopher Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. This is the second of the Will Raven novels, the first one having taken place in 1845. Once again, the feel and atmosphere of Victorian Edinburgh has been captured beautifully in a story that resonates with the great medical strides that were being made in Edinburgh at the time, and also resonates with the dark underbelly of a city where poverty and vice were rife. The novel's plotting is superb, and one of its more unusual joys is the fact that, throughout the book there are short chapters written by Mary Dempster herself. And as with the last book, many of the characters are real historical figures. Dr James Simpson did indeed live and practise at 52 Queen Street, and was falsely accused of causing the death of a patient, one of the accusers being Dr James Matthews Duncan. And James Quintin was indeed Simpson's secretary. This is an elegantly-written, totally readable book which had me reading into the wee small hours.

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