The Anatomist's Apprentice (Dr. Thomas Silkstone Series #1)

The Anatomist's Apprentice (Dr. Thomas Silkstone Series #1)

by Tessa Harris

Hardcover(Large Print)

$30.99 View All Available Formats & Editions


In the first in a stunning new mystery series set in eighteenth-century England, Tessa Harris introduces Dr. Thomas Silkstone, anatomist and pioneering forensic detective. . .

The death of Sir Edward Crick has unleashed a torrent of gossip through the seedy taverns and elegant ballrooms of Oxfordshire. Few mourn the dissolute young man--except his sister, the beautiful Lady Lydia Farrell. When her husband comes under suspicion of murder, she seeks expert help from Dr. Thomas Silkstone, a young anatomist from Philadelphia.

Thomas arrived in England to study under its foremost surgeon, where his unconventional methods only add to his outsider status. Against his better judgment he agrees to examine Sir 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. . .

Advance praise for Tessa Harris and The Anatomist's Apprentice

'"Tessa Harris has delivered a deftly plotted debut. Just when you think the puzzle is solved, she reveals yet another surprising twist which leaves you marveling at her ingenuity." --Carol Carr, author of India Black

"CSI meets The Age of Reason with a well-drawn, intriguing cast of characters, headed by the brilliant Dr. Thomas Silkstone. Full of twists and turns, Tessa Harris's debut mystery can confound the most adept reader. Vivid details pulled me right into the world of early forensic sleuthing. A page turner!" --Karen Harper

"Tessa Harris takes us on a fascinating journey into the shadowy world of anatomist Thomas Silkstone, a place where death holds no mystery and all things are revealed." –Victoria Thompson, author of Murder on Sisters' Row

"From dissection table to drawing room, this visit to late eighteenth-century England is chock full of intriguing twists and turns. Along with the visiting surgeon from the colonies, Dr. Thomas Silkstone, readers will find themselves challenged by the who, the how, and the why of murder at an idyllic Oxfordshire manor house." --Kate Emerson

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781410446985
Publisher: Gale Cengage Learning
Publication date: 04/06/2012
Series: Dr. Thomas Silkstone Series , #1
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 531
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tessa Harris, an English author born in Lincolnshire, holds a history degree from Oxford University. After four years of working with local newspapers, she set her sights on women s magazines. She is regularly heard on local BBC radio and over the years has interviewed such people as Margaret Thatcher, Jeffrey Archer, Anthony Hopkins, Susan Hampshire, Alan Titchmarsh, Jackie Stewart, Boris Johnson, and Uri Geller. She lives in Berkshire with her husband and their two children.

Read an Excerpt

The Anatomist's Apprentice

A Dr. Thomas Silkstone Mystery



Copyright © 2012 Tessa Harris
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7582-7802-9


The County of Oxfordshire, England, in the Year of Our Lord, 1780

A stifled scream came first, shattering the oppressive silence. It was followed by the sound of a heavy footfall. Lady Lydia Farrell rushed out into the corridor. A trail of muddy footprints led to her brother's bedchamber.

"Edward," she called.

A heartbeat later she was knocking at his door, a rising sense of panic taking hold. No reply. Without waiting she rushed in to find Hannah Lovelock, the maidservant, paralyzed by terror.

Over in the corner of the large room, darkened by shadows, the young master was shaking violently, his head tossing from side to side. Moving closer Lydia could see her brother's hair was disheveled and his shirt half open, but it was the color of his skin as his face turned toward the light from the window that shocked her most. Creamy yellow, like onyx, it was as if he wore a mask. She gasped at the sight.

"What is it, Edward? Are you unwell?" she cried, hurrying toward him. He did not answer but fixed her with a stare, as if she were a stranger; then he began to retch, his shoulders heaving with violent convulsions.

In a panic she ran over to the jug on his table and poured him water, but his hand flew out at her, knocking the glass away and it smashed into pieces on the floor. It was then she noticed his eyes. They were straining from their sockets, bulging wildly as if trying to escape, while the skin around his mouth was turning blue as he clutched his throat and clenched his teeth, like some rabid dog. Suddenly, and most terrifying of all, blood started to spew from his mouth and flecked his lips.

Hannah screamed again, this time almost hysterically, as her master lunged forward, his spindly arms trying to grab the window drapes before he fell to the ground, convulsing as if shaken by the very devil himself.

As he lay writhing on the floor, gurgling through crimson-tinged bile, Lydia ran to him, bending over his scrawny body as it juddered uncontrollably, but his left leg lashed out and kicked her hard. She yelped in pain and steadied herself against the bed, but she knew that she alone could be of no comfort, so she fled from the room, shrieking frantically for the servants.

"Fetch the physician. For God's sake, call Dr. Fairweather!" she screamed, her voice barely audible over the howls that rose ever louder from the bedchamber.

Downstairs there was pandemonium. The unearthly cries, punctuated by the mistress's staccato pleas, could now be heard in the hallway of Boughton Hall. The footman and the butler emerged and began to climb the stairs, while Captain Michael Farrell put his head around the doorway of his study to see his wife, ashen-faced, on the half landing.

"What is it, in God's name?" he cried.

There were screams now from another housemaid as more servants gathered in the hallway, listening with mounting horror to the banshee wails coming from the young master's bedchamber. The house dogs began to bark, too, and their sounds joined together with Lydia's cries for help in a cacophony of terror that soon seemed to reach a crescendo. All was chaos and fear for a few seconds more and then, just as suddenly as it had left, silence descended on Boughton Hall once more.

Dr. Fairweather arrived too late. He found the young man lying sprawled across the bed, his clothes stained with slashes of blood. His face was contorted into a grotesque grimace, with eyes wide open, as if witnessing some scene of indescribable torment, and his swollen tongue was half protruding from purple lips.

The next few minutes were spent prodding and probing, but at the end of the examination the physician's conclusion was decidedly inconclusive.

"He has a yellowish tinge," he noted.

"But what could have done this?" pleaded Lydia, her face tear-stained and drawn.

Dr. Fairweather shook his head. "Lord Crick suffered many ailments. Any one, or several, could have resulted in his demise," he volunteered rather unhelpfully.

Mr. Peabody, the apothecary, came next. He swore that he had added no more and no less to his lordship's purgative than was usual. "His death is as much of a mystery to me as it is to Dr. Fairweather," he concluded.

News of the untimely demise of the Right Honorable The Earl Crick was quick to seep out from Boughton Hall and spread across to nearby villages and into the Oxfordshire countryside beyond within hours. Without a surgeon to apply a tourniquet to stem the flow, it gushed like blood from a severed artery. And of course the tale became even more shocking in the telling in the inns and alehouses.

"'Twas his eyes."

"I 'eard they turned red."

"I 'eard his flesh went green."

"'E were shrieking like a thing possessed."

"Maybe 'e were."

"Mayhap 'e saw the devil 'imself."

"Claiming his own, no doubt."

There was a brief pause as the drinkers pondered the salience of this last remark, until suddenly as one they chorused: "Aye. Aye."

The six men were huddled around the dying embers of the fire at an inn on the edge of the Chiltern Hills. It was autumn and an early chill was setting in.

"And what of 'er, poor creature?"

"'Tis said 'e lashed out at 'er."

"Tried to kill 'er, 'is own flesh and blood."

"And she so delicate an' all, like spun gossamer."

"'E was a bad 'un, all right," said the miller.

Without exception his five drinking companions nodded as their thoughts turned to the various injustices most of them had suffered at their dead lord's hands.

"'E'll be burning in hell now," ventured the blacksmith. Another chorus of approval was rendered.

"Good riddance, that's what I say," said the carpenter, and everyone raised their tankards. It seemed to be a sentiment that was shared by all those contemplating the young man's fate.

For a moment or two all was quiet as they supped their tepid ale. It was the blacksmith who broke the silence. " 'Course you know who'll be celebrating the most, don't ye?" He leaned forward in a conspiratorial gesture.

The men looked at one another, then nodded quickly in unison at the realization of this new supposition that had been tossed, like some bone, into their circle.

"'E'll be rubbing his 'ands with glee," smirked the miller, sucking at his pipe.

"That 'e will, my friends," agreed the blacksmith. "That 'e will," and he emptied his tankard and set it down with a loud thud on the table in front of him, with all the emphatic righteousness of a man who thinks he knows everything, but in reality knows very little at all.

Outside in the fading light of the marketplace, the women were talking, too. "Like some mad dog, he was, tearing at his own clothes," said the lady's maid, who heard it from her cousin, who knew the stable lad to the brother of the vicar who had attended at the hall on the night of the death.

She was imparting her blood-curdling tale to anyone who would listen to her as she bought ribbon for her mistress at Brandwick market, and there were plenty who did.

So it was that inside the low-beamed taverns and in bustling market squares, in restrained drawing rooms and raucous gaming halls around the county of Oxfordshire, the death was the talk of milkmaids and merchants and gossips and governesses alike. Some spoke of the young nobleman's eyes, how they had wept blood, and of his mouth, how it had slavered and foamed and how foul utterances and curses had been spewed forth.

The more circumspect would simply say the young earl had died in extreme agony and their thoughts were with his grieving family. Nevertheless, from the gummy old widow to the sober squire, they all listened intently and passed the story on in shades as varied as the turning leaves on the autumn beeches; on each occasion embellishing it with thin threads of conjecture that were strengthened every time they were entwined.

Boughton Hall was a fine, solid country house that was built in the late 1600s by the Right Honorable The Earl Crick's great-great-grandfather, the first earl. It nestled in a large hollow in the midst of the Chiltern Hills, surrounded by hundreds of acres of parkland and beech woods. Its imposing chimneystacks and pediments had seen better days and the facade was looking less than pristine, but the neglect that it had endured over the past four years under young Lord Crick's stewardship could be easily remedied with some cosmetic care.

Lady Lydia Farrell loved her ancestral home, but now it was fast taking on the mantle of a fortress whose walls stood between her and the volleys of lies and insinuation that were being fired at her and her husband since her brother's death. The vicar, the Reverend Lightfoot, tried to comfort her as they sat in the drawing room one evening three days later. His face was mottled, like some ancient, stained map, and he rolled out well-practiced words of comfort as if they were barrels of sack.

"Time," he told her, "is the great physician."

She looked up at him from her chair and smiled weakly. His words, although well meant, did not impress her. She forbore his trite platitudes politely but remained silent, fully aware that while time may have been a great physician, it was not a good anatomist. The longer her brother lay in his shroud that held within it the secrets of his death, the sooner time would turn from a physician into an enemy.


A good corpse is like a fine fillet of beef, the master would say — tender to the touch and easy to slice. He neglected to make any comparisons with the odor, however. Once it began to stink any cook worth her salt would throw the offending meat to the dogs. Not so with a cadaver. Unlike the side of an ox whose texture and general flavor benefited from a few days' hanging, the human body needed to be butchered, in the technical sense, ideally within the first few hours of its slaughter, or in this case, demise.

Despite the fact that this particular corpse was relatively fresh, however, it was still proving difficult. Rigor mortis was setting in and Dr. Thomas Silkstone knew he would have to work quickly if he wanted to dissect the intestinal lymphatics before they atrophied. The translucent flexible tubes that resembled a large tangle of string were already beginning to lose their elasticity, even though their unfortunate owner, a Mr. Joshua Smollett, had died only that morning. A former patient, he was one of the few visionaries to comprehend that if any strides were to be made in the field of medicine and the curation of diseases they could only be taken via the knowledge gleaned from the practice of anatomy. "Dissection," as the master, properly known as Dr. Silkstone's mentor, Dr. William Carruthers, would frequently say in his lectures, "is the key to understanding all illness."

Thomas often found himself inadvertently reciting Dr. Carruthers's mantras. He hated himself for doing it, after all he was now a qualified surgeon in his own right, but the influence of the old man's teaching had seeped into every fiber of his being and dictated every turn of his professional thoughts, every incision of his razor-sharp knife. "You are an artist," Thomas recalled him saying more than once. "You are a da Vinci, a Michelangelo. The scalpel is your brush and the corpse your canvas." It was hard to think of himself as an artist, however, when he had to breathe in short, sharp movements to stop himself retching.

It was autumn now, and the air was cool and relatively fresh, but when the temperature rose so, too, would the reek of decaying flesh. That was the time when only those with the strongest of constitutions could stomach the vile and noxious miasma, which rose throughout every dissecting room in London, fed by sunlight and heat.

It was rare for Thomas to handle a corpse such as Mr. Smollett's. Indeed, these days he was finding it increasingly rare to handle a corpse at all. When he had first come to London, a fresh-faced foreigner all the way from Philadelphia, the Corporation of Surgeons had invited him to participate in the dissection of a cadaver fresh from the gallows. He shuddered as he remembered them in their black robes and gray wigs, as they peered and prodded like so many vultures until they went in for the first incision. Even now Thomas found the whole affair utterly distasteful, despite the fact that the man they were mutilating was always a convicted felon and had, in all probability, mutilated several people himself while they were still alive.

It was only natural therefore that a man in his position and with such weighty responsibilities should seek out just a few of the many distractions that London offered. In his native Philadelphia he had enjoyed masques and balls, whereas here he found the company a little dull and markedly less refined. The ladies, too, he had noted, possessed by and large thicker ankles than their sisters in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless in London he had found salvation in the theater and, in particular, Mr. Garrick's in Drury Lane. He had read all the great philosophers but nowhere was the human condition so well expounded as in the great actor's production of King Lear.

As he worked on the flaccid body that had once housed Mr. Smollett, Thomas was in a reflective mood. Unlike most of his patients, who would make their loved ones swear as they sat by their deathbeds that their corpses would never be handed over for dissection, Mr. Smollett had no fear of forgoing the pleasures of paradise if he allowed his body to be opened. "St. Peter will welcome me whether I be in a shroud or in pieces," he had quipped on Thomas's penultimate visit, before his laughter had caused him to cough up blood.

Phthisis, also known as tuberculosis, also known as the white death, was the obvious agent of his demise. Thomas had found his lungs to be badly scarred as he had expected, but it was the lymphatic system that currently occupied him and so he had taken the opportunity of slicing into the lower abdomen. Mr. Smollett had been a portly gentleman to say the least, and by the time Thomas had peeled away through layers of cream-colored subcutaneous fat, the tissues and organs were becoming increasingly resistant to his scalpel. Not only that, but the light was now fading and he would soon have to resort to candles.

Mistress Finesilver, the wily housekeeper, had already warned him that too much household money was being expended on candles but a good, bright light was essential for his work. He would rather spend money on tallow than on port wine and had told her so, much to her annoyance. He put down his scalpel, wiped his hands on his large, stained apron, and fetched a candelabrum from the windowsill. Placing it on the table just by Mr. Smollett's left buttock, he struck a flint and lit a long taper. He could not afford himself the luxury of a fire that would turn the corpse even more quickly. Cradling the flame in his bloody hands, he lit the five candles so that Mr. Smollett's abdomen was gradually illuminated in a halo of soft light.

Now that Dr. Carruthers's failing sight had forced him to relinquish his work, Thomas had taken on his mantle. Gone were the days when Carruthers would pack a lecture theater to the rafters with students eager to see the precision with which he could remove a man's spleen or amputate a limb. Unlike his teacher, Thomas was no great showman. He preferred to work quietly and efficiently alone, making detailed notes of his observations as Dr. Carruthers had taught. He now labored in his erstwhile master's laboratory, graduating from the cramped, airless room at the rear of the Dover Street premises that once served him as a study. He had inherited Dr. Carruthers's spacious rooms in Hollen Street and all that came with them and that included the grotesque and disturbing creatures that now stared out at him reproachfully from their glass prisons in the half light, like forlorn captives frozen in time.


Excerpted from The Anatomist's Apprentice by TESSA HARRIS. Copyright © 2012 Tessa Harris. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Anatomist's Apprentice 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read about this book in the New York Times and was glad I read it. It's the first in a new series and introduces us to Dr Thomas Silkstone, a young American surgeon who is studying in London. Full of twists and turns, it had me totally hooked. Its prose is quite unusual and very 'period', which I loved and there are some really interesting passages about early forensics. There is a romance in it too, although the female character of Lady Lydia needs to be brought out a bit more. It would be good for a book club, I think. I'm already looking forward to the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read and I enjoyed it much more than I expected. Good character development and more than a few surprises I did not see coming. Recommended.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Karen P. for Readers Favorite "The Anatomist's Apprentice" by Tessa Harris is a wonderful "period book" for those who like mysteries. Sir Edward Crick has died a mysterious death and several suspects emerge. Enter Dr.Thomas Silkstone, a colonialist from Philadelphia, who has come to England to study under a renowned surgeon. Thomas is drawn into doing an autopsy on Edward's corpse and this further entangles him in the family dynamics of the Crick family. The deeper Thomas goes into the mystery, the more he puts himself and others at risk. The deceased's sister is of special interest to Thomas and he is inexplicably drawn to her even though she is married to the new Lord of the house. The story is set in eighteenth century England and those who like historical fiction will love the character development which is skillfully woven into the plot itself. Unlike many other mysteries, this story is not finished until it is finished, a delight to the thousands of mystery buffs who usually find that the end is predictable right in the second chapter. Harris is a skilled writer and she has a knack for taking us into the minds of the character via her dialogue. The story is one which will stay with the reader long after the mystery of Edward's death is finally solved. And then, the reader might ask, "What next of this likeable sleuth Thomas?" Perhaps Harris will treat the reader to that answer in the near future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was full of twists and is an excellent read.
DivineMissW More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book. Great storytelling. I am ready for the next one!
exerciseat63 More than 1 year ago
Great read. Keeps moving. So many twist. Can't wait for the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a very enjoyable tale.Every time I thought I had it figured out there was another twist and turn.Highly recommended!
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed By~Marissa Review Copy Proivded By~ARC from Publisher This is a first book from Tessa Harris and she has done a brilliant job! It is also the first in a mystery series featuring Dr. Thomas Silkstone. For those of you who like period mysteries featuring forward thinking men, this is the book you need to read. I liken it to the Sarah Woolson Mysteries by Shirley Tallman or the Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn, both of which feature progressive women sleuths in historical references. Taking place in 1780 England, our hero, Dr. Thomas Silkstone, is a doctor practicing dissection and autopsy to help him understand diseases and the causes of death. When Lady Lydia Farrell approaches him to perform an autopsy on her brother, he immediately falls in awe of her. While this book is strictly a mystery there is an aura of romance about it that begins so subtly it is almost non-existent. One thing I loved about Silkstone is his tendency to think in terms of dissection. For example, when first riding into Oxford, his thought was that it looked “…like a gleaming necklace of cream-colored knuckle bones threaded on a tendon of river…” Contradictorily, he also speaks of the human body and its organs in terms of landscapes: “From the gray, spongy marsh of the inner cerebrum, from the undulating hills of the cerebellum to the boggy lowlands of the hypothalamus, the trails and routes of the brain were chartered territories inasmuch as explorer surgeons had traversed their silent landscapes many times.” Harris’ writing is intelligent and eloquent. She puts together words that do more than bring together a story; they evoke the true speech and culture of 1780. I learned several new words and phrases during my reading and, after using an on-line dictionary for the first few chapters, discovered a glossary in the back of the book to help with the lingo. Cock a snook may not mean quite what you’re thinking while phapian translates to prostitute. The mystery is well-plotted and weaves the story with CSI-like investigations, LA Law-like courtroom dramatics, and a Sherlock Holmes-like integrity in digging for the truth, no matter how the truth wills out. I am highly anticipating the second book in this series and can’t wait to see where it leads Silkstone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was somewhat enjoyable, but would make a better movie. Lots of twists an turns, with an interesting plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I probably overcorrected this rating in reaction to my annoyance at the glowing reviews that misled me into ordering this book. It is not a bad book, just not by any extent of the imagination a 5 star narrative. The storyline is interesting until the plot twists become so ludicrous you can't help but realize you've fallen into the clutches of a jumped-up gothic. The writing aspires to more than the author's abilities can support. Her use of imagery is particularly clumsy. Perhaps she is striving to emulate the language of her time period; if so, she does not succeed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I began reading this book there was something off about the writing - then I realized that is reads like a romance novel, which I rarely read. But the story was good and I loved the science and forensics from 1780 England. Another reviewer said it was a cross between Arthur Conan Doyle and Harlequien Romance and was right. If Ms. Harris could drop the romance dialogue I would love to read more - but I have trouble with the fancy words, vapid dialogue and waiting for Lydia to have an attack of the 'vapors'. But a fun story non-the-less.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay, I would have only given the book one star, but I was interested enough to find out how it ended.  I disagree that the writer did a good job with character development; I found the characters to be flat.  The writer was quite morbid with the extreme detail in relating the various autopsies and dissections.   If it were a bit better written, it would have been a most excellent read because the author did put plenty of twists in the plot.  But all-in-all, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
cjmaine More than 1 year ago
Didn't care very much for this book and never finished it. I found a lot of mistakes about things... Like cinnamon doesn't grow in England and a few other minor statements that took away from the book... like the writer didn't care enough to find out the truth. The book just didn't flow.
maximin More than 1 year ago
Imagine Conan Doyle writing a Harlequin Romance. Our protagonist/detective suffers frequent attacks of the vapors as he contemplates the woman he has encounters. The frequent anachronisms do provide some humor. A servant is instructed to, "Call the Doctor!" In the 1770's one only called someone who was within earshot. The protagonist declares, "I am a scientist." a term that lay at least 50 years in the future. Forget it! Read Conan Doyle again.
Michelle1948 More than 1 year ago
...and I truly enjoyed this book. It had great characters, a good story and a decent mystery. Every time you thought you knew who the murderer was there was a new twist. Some mystery readers may find that annoying but I found it really kept the story going. Lots of different motives going on among the characters. A lot of veiled deception. I'm not sure that I would recommend it to a book club because some of the details seem almost gory while slightly boring. But I would recommend it to the cozy mystery readers that enjoy historical fiction (the setting is the late 1700s) It was a great mystery!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There's no suspense here at all - you can see what's going to happen next well before the doctor does.
Bukgoddess More than 1 year ago
The Anatomist’s Apprentice is the first installment in what promises to be an exciting new mystery series from debut English author Tessa Harris. In the Anatomist’s Apprentice Ms. Harris introduces us to her main character, Dr. Thomas Silkstone. Dr. Silkstone is a young American doctor of Anatomy originally from Philadelphia who travels to 18th Century London to garner additional training from the world famous surgeon who holds court in England’s most prestigious teaching college. Through a twisted turn of events, Dr. Silkstone finds himself embroiled in determining the cause of what appears a questionable death of a member of the aristocracy. In a race against time, Thomas’s analytical mind and hunger for the truth drives him on an exciting journey to unearth the clues that will lead him in identifying the true cause of death. Dr. Silverstone’s unyielding search, which contains both a personal as well as a professional reasoning to determine whether natural causes or foul play is at hand, finds himself drawn to look for answers outside of what the body is telling him. Thomas’s unrelenting inquiries find him the target of someone who means to put an end to his investigative pursuits at any cost. Dr. Silverstone’s actions considered beyond the traditional scope of his duties as an anatomist provide us with an early glimpse of the field that will soon evolve into modern day Forensic Science Investigation. A fast-paced story with many twists and turns that will keep you enthralled until the final pages. The accolades for this book speak the truth; you will not be able to put this book down. As we find ourselves captivated by Ms. Harris’ first installment, one can only wait impatiently for the next chapters in the investigative adventures of Dr. Thomas Silkstone!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Enjoyed this love, mystery, murder novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting historical mystery with an interesting twist
Twink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Anatomist's Apprentice is the first (and debut) book in Tessa Harris's new series featuring Dr. Thomas Silkstone. I initially picked up the book based on the description - 18th century, London, England, mystery, early forensic detection, as it seemed to fall into one of my favourite genres - historical mysteries. Lady Lydia Farrell's brother dies a horrible death in his own bed. Was he the victim of some unknown condition? Or was helped along the way to his Maker - by her husband? She seeks the advice of a well known anatomist - Dr. Silkstone - hoping he can shed light on what really happened to her brother. Silkstone uses his medical skills, but also seems to have a keen eye and ear for ferreting out details about situations and people that may reveal the truth. The Anatomist's Apprentice is a period piece and as such, it does move at a more leisurely pace in terms of plot, development and language. I sometimes wanted to hurry things along. Harris's historical research was very well done and showed in the details. Where the book fell down for me was the whole romantic entanglement between Silkstone and Lady Lydia. It started to fall into bodice ripper territory for me (a place I try not to go). Once I found out who the publisher was - Kensington Books - it made sense. Harris does deliver a good twist at the end. She has two further books planned for Silkstone. This will appeal to readers who would enjoy, in the words of the author "...a cracking yarn interwoven with a love story, set against a fascinating historical backdrop."
ashmolean1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved this book...the setting, the plot, the subject,the atmosphere and the characters. Great historical mystery.
jvandehy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For all the interesting elements of this story, I was disappointed. Basically, a really smart American solves a murder in England using chromatography, which he sort of invents about half way through the story. A couple of twists which were lightly telegraphed. Not enjoyable - luckily a fast read.
bhowell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book but was not going to write anything until I saw the review by Twink. I had a good laugh because I had the same reaction. I thought it was veering towards soppy romance or bodice ripper territory as Twink puts it and then i looked at the publisher. Kensington books, well what did I expect?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting look into 1780s lifestyles, medical practices, and the beginnings of crime scene investigation. Plus there's a romance involved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago