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  • Writer's pictureKenneth

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Today’s incoherent ramblings and rantings is about the excellent follow up to ”The Way of All Flesh” namely “The Art of Dying” by Ambrose Parry.

The Art of Dying: 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.

Considering ”The Way of All Flesh” is one of my top crime books for this year, I had big expectations for the sequel, and I am happy to say that I was not disappointed, I will even say it surpasses its predecessor(well I have said it now, and I will stand by my opinion!)

So why is it better? Well, the perpetrator is better fleshed out, the book is sprinkled with chapters from the point of view of the killer, so you get a better understanding in what drives the killer to kill. Personally, I feel this murderer is more menacing than the first books villain.

As for the characters; Doctor Simpson is as erratic as usual, still a brilliant and respected doctor, although in this story he is being accused of medical neglect. The sequel is set a few years after the first one, we find Will Raven working as a doctor in Berlin, he is then offered a position as Dr Simpson protégé, when Will returns to Edinburgh, he finds things have drastically changed between him and Sarah. So not only do they have a killer to catch, but they have their personal situation and feelings towards each other to deal with.

Will and Sarah are one of the better crime solving companions in newer time (in my mind!)

The writing is stellar (as you would expect) and 1850 Edinburgh has never felt more alive! The attention to detail, especially to the medical procedures, gives the book an added layer of realism and immersion, I found myself saying “just one more chapter” before putting down the book (I really should stop reading in the middle of the night, sleep comes in my way of my reading addiction!) it is also a look at the social conventions, then in regard to what a woman’s position, in upper and lower class is like, it makes me really glad that I am not a woman, nor living in 1800s and/or is pregnant, because life was hard back then(mortality rate before a kid reached the age of 5 worldwide in the 1800s was at 43.3%)

Slight digression at the end there! So, go and do yourself a favour! go buy this book when it is released on the 29 of august! And if you haven’t read “The Way of All Flesh” go treat yourself and buy it too!

About the author: Ambrose Parry is the pseudonym for the collaboration of crime author Chris Brookmyre and his wife Dr Marisa Haetzman


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