If you’re looking for a book which covers status, medicine and crime in the historical/ crime fiction genre, look no further than The Way of all Flesh by Ambrose Parry.
Edinburgh, 1847. Will Raven is a medical student, apprenticing for the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson. Sarah Fisher is Simpson’s housemaid, and has all of Raven’s intelligence but none of his privileges.
As bodies begin to appear across the Old Town, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld. And if either of them are to make it out alive, they will have to work together to find out who’s responsible for the gruesome deaths.
The authors both deserve huge recognition for their writing here
The Way of all Flesh depicts the 1800s well, with topics around medicine and positions/power in the era. For me, the most interesting part was seeing how women of certain stature were depicted, especially when it comes to treatment. We know that this happened, but The Way of all Flesh shows it in a very dark way, with the added element of mystery.
The authors both deserve huge recognition for their writing here. It’s detailed, down to the point I could feel some of the parts (I’m pretty sure when someone banged their head, I also got a headache), as well as imagine everything, from the locations, to people simply walking down a street.
Saying this, The Way of all Flesh is a bit of a slow-burner, and for me, took some time to get into. I went from reading a thriller, with very short sentences and lots of conversation to this, where it is detailed to let your imagination run wild. The last 50 pages flew by, and when the pieces started to come together, it definitely makes you sit up and block everything out.
There were a few different stories which all linked together in a very clever way. I’m thoroughly impressed by how no questions are left unanswered, especially when there is so much detail. The end was entirely unpredictable, and the journey along the way was very interesting, although at times, slow.
The historical notes at the back adds an extra depth to this historical fiction, almost making me question whether the crime side did happen.
I’d love to see another book like this maybe set a bit further on in time, most definitely by the same authors. They have shown a real talent with talking about difficult, but all too real, topics with lots of flavour that the reader should take advantage of.
This isn’t a 5-star read for me, but definitely a 4-star. It didn’t blow me away, but the ending was engaging, unpredictable and well-rounded.
The Way of all Flesh, Ambrose Parry, RRP £8.99 (paperback); Book Depository
Publisher: Canongate Books
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Crime Fiction