THE WAY OF ALL FLESH
When Will Raven starts his apprenticeship with the renowned Dr Simpson he gets more than he’s bargained for as women are being murdered around Edinburgh. Teaming up with housemaid Sarah, can they discover the truth before it’s too late?
The Way of All Flesh is a historical fiction mystery that has strong medical base and knowledge thrown in. I felt this affected the pace quite a bit as it was a little slow to start, but sped up nicely towards the end to make me tear through the pages to find out the culprit.
The story itself seems very nicely researched and based in fact which is a nice touch. Upon reading more about the subject online I can see many famous figures are used as side-characters and many true (and remarkable!) events are used in the plot which is great. I enjoyed the descriptions of ancient, violent Edinburgh and thought the fictional characters of Raven and Sarah were well integrated into the factual story. I liked the slight romance between them and I gather there will be a sequel based around them which I will certainly look out for. The alternating narrative between them was a good choice and helped to carry the story along.
I did feel that the ‘modern’ touches were a little jarring – Sarah is quite a feminist and I did feel her viewpoints became a little preachey and unrealistic at times, particularly for someone of the lower classes – it felt like it was written with much too much hindsight in mind. As the story includes historically accurate story of the birth of ether and chloroform used in medical practice I did feel the inclusion of ‘peri peri’ was a bit weird and brought me out of the story a little.
Overall The Way of All Flesh was a bit of a slow paced read to start with but is a well-researched historical fiction that will stay with you after you read it – and you learn some real history from it as well which is always a good thing! Thank you to NetGalley and Canongate Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.