Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on book three in the Will Raven/Sarah Fisher series by Ambrose Parry, A Corruption of Blood. My thanks to publisher Canongate Books for the advance review copy via Netgalley. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Edinburgh, 1850. This city will bleed you dry.
Dr Will Raven is a man seldom shocked by human remains, but even he is disturbed by the contents of a package washed up at the Port of Leith. Stranger still, a man Raven has long detested is pleading for his help to escape the hangman.
Back in the townhouse of Dr James Simpson, Sarah Fisher has set her sights on learning to practise medicine. Almost everyone seems intent on dissuading her from this ambition, but when word reaches her that a woman has recently obtained a medical degree despite her gender, Sarah decides to seek her out.
Raven’s efforts to prove his former adversary’s innocence are failing and he desperately needs Sarah’s help. Putting their feelings for one another aside, their investigations take them to both extremes of Edinburgh’s social divide, where they discover that wealth and status cannot alter a fate written in the blood.
Well … I suppose I will start with a word of warning. This is not a very easy subject to read about. Nothing is glorified and there is nothing taken to gratuitous lengths within the story, but it does feature a very taboo subject, and of the death of children will cause you distress then you may want to exercise caution because the opening to the book is quite stark, and later discoveries do nothing to make the heart fill with warmth. That aside, this was yet another brilliantly researched, authentic feeling story which blends humour, history and mystery to entertain, and enrapture this. read from the very first page to the last.
Over the course of the three books I have really come to like the character of Will Raven. I’ll be blunt – he came across as a bit of knob to begin with, but he has quickly redeemed himself and is now a character driven by principles and doing the right thing, especially by Sarah, even if his head and his heart tell are torn. As for Sarah, she is a woman that many can recognise, held back by society but determined to make her own way in spite of it. This time around though she is plagued by some self doubts which are untypical of her, but believable of her circumstances. There is an amazing chemistry between the two characters and no matter what conflicts may occur and whatever circumstance, and the authors, throws in their way, they make a formidable pair. Somehow you just know that as soon as they are involved, the criminals do not stand a chance.
There are two different threads to this story that lead our protagonists in. different directions initially, but ultimately resulting in their proving that two heads are far better than one. First up we have the murder of a very prominent Edinburgh resident. A former University mentee, and adversary, of Will Raven stands accused of his murder. A mutual friend persuades Raven to look into the murder against his better judgment, certain that the wrong person is set to be convicted. What we face here is a story full of tension, corruption and hidden truths which are as believable as they are shocking, but very much if the time. It is a twisted story of a fractured family, instantly recognisable, but give a unique Ambrose Parry twist that had me smiling in approval.
Sarah’s quest is one which will very much tug at the heartstrings and resonates with news stories from the not so distant past. It ties in with other elements of the story in a tragic and emotional way, one which will sadden even the hardest of readers. It has been handled with care but also with authenticity, and whilst it is easy to suppose we know where that particular thread may lead, always be prepared to expect the unexpected. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been – with hindsight, the clues are all there – but it certainly makes for quite the eyebrow raising moment.
This wouldn’t be an Ambrose Parry novel without a link back to the medical side of Raven and Sarah’s life and once again we are brought into the world of Dr Simpson, a blend of the factual and the imagined, which really adds another dimension to the stories. It is a thriller based in the world of medicine, rather than a medical thriller, but I have to admit that those scenes fascinate me every but as much as the wonderful array of characters and the rich settings that Ambrose Parry portray so beautifully. There are plenty of the old favourite characters littered throughout the story, as well as some new who most definitely throw a spanner in the works as far as our Detecting duo are concerned. Potentially big changes afoot but it has left me all the more intrigued to see what may come next.
About the Author
Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The couple are married and live in Scotland. Chris Brookmyre is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of over twenty novels.