Cover Image: The Way of All Flesh

The Way of All Flesh

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Member Reviews

I picked up this book sometime ago but just couldn't get into it. So I tried again months later.

I found it a little slow but loved the historical accuracy. I dare say its researched to its teeth. I learned a lot and it really kept me interested. 

Would definitely recommend.
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To be honest, I finished this book ages ago and just realized I'd never left feedback on it. I enjoyed it immensely and particular appreciated both the period detail and the strong cast of characters. I've read one more book in this series since then and look forward to more.
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A wonderful period piece that reminded me a bit of Crimson Petal and the White.  The research that went into this story is really impressive however at times the writing felt a little long winded.

Certain aspects, such as Sarah's desire to break out of her role as housemaid and Raven's desperation to fit in with the upper class could have benefited from more subtle less repetitive writing.  

Nevertheless, this is a compelling and colourful novel and was well worth the read.
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In Edinburgh 1847, at the house and surgery of renowned Dr Simpson, new apprentice Will and housemaid Sarah find themselves invested in the recent murders of young women across the Old Town. 

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the dynamic between the two main characters; starting off with a dislike that changes when they must work together. Both Will and Sarah are interesting with very different pasts and problems that they are faced with. 

I thought there was a strong sense of place with an assortment of dark and interesting characters populating the Old Town streets of 19th century Edinburgh. I also like the medical issues explored, including child birth and the use of anaesthesia.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys gritty historical stories and murder mysteries with a sense of danger.

I look forward to reading the second book in this series, The Art of Dying, which is out now. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Canongate Books for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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"The only antidote to being confronted with death was the hearty embrace of life, even if that embrace was smelly sweaty and rough."
What a great first installment in a new historical crime series! 

I won't go into the plot as this is a mystery but suffice to say it's the perfect winter read. Wonderfully atmospheric and gritty. By the end I cared very much for the characters. The character building was expertly done by the authors as we find out more via the main characters getting to know each other. It was such an organic and natural way to get to know them and I'm definitely invested in their stories now. I will be picking up the next installment upon it's 2020 release!
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Fair historical crime fiction. Does a good job of capturing the atmosphere and the world leading medicine of Edinburgh at that time. Enjoyable if not a little predictable.
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an expert in historical moody fiction. He captures the mood and time with atmosphere and suspense. A true legend.
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Thank you Canongate  for the review copy! 

I really wanted to love this one after getting really excited by the blurb (and that cover ahhhh) but the writing style threw me off and made it hard to really immerse myself in the story. A bit jilted although I'm not sure why.
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The Way of All Flesh introduces the reader to Will Raven, about to start a prestigious medical apprenticeship but burdened by secrets in his past, an unhealthily close connection to a murder victim, ruthless debt collectors on his trail and a self-confessed dark side to his character.

Despite Raven’s initial determination that the death of a woman he was close to should not become just another unsolved murder of a ‘fallen woman’, readers need to exercise some patience for his investigation into the murder to get fully under way. Not, in fact, until other similar victims start to turn up. It’s some time as well before the initial antagonism between Sarah, housemaid to the Simpson household,and Raven gives way to an uneasy investigative partnership which Sarah is determined should be one of equals. “You will keep nothing from me, and in this endeavour, you will at all times treat me as your equal.”

The authors have created an interesting character in Sarah. Intelligent, independent-minded and keen to better herself, she nevertheless finds her ambitions thwarted by social conventions and preconceptions based on her gender. A theme of the book which the reader will find difficult to miss is the inferior status of women, at all levels of society, and the potential for their mistreatment by men. As Sarah observes, “…it wasn’t only women below stairs who would never be permitted to realise their potential. Those above could aspire to no more than marriage and motherhood.” The latter is exemplified by Mina, unmarried sister-in-law of Dr. Simpson, who finds herself dependent on others for financial support and valueless without the status of wife. And, of course, there’s Sarah who, despite her intelligence and self-acquired knowledge of medicines, finds even the role of druggist’s assistant out of reach because she’s a woman and for customers ‘only a man will do.’

Alongside the crime mystery element, the book conjures up the atmosphere of 19th century Edinburgh, both its gentrified streets and seedy alleyways. It also brings to life a time of medical and scientific experimentation in the search for developments in anaesthesia and surgical techniques. The monetary and reputational rewards for pioneers of such developments may be great and, as becomes clear, not all possess the scruples of others. They may go to any lengths, seeing their actions as ‘a necessary sacrifice on the altar of progress’.

As a historical crime mystery, the book is more of a slow burn than a raging conflagration but the pace does pick up markedly in the final chapters. Making forays into subjects such as photography and homeopathy, it’s nevertheless full of atmosphere and, in Raven and Sarah, introduces an engaging central partnership, that sets things up nicely for future books.
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This novel tells the story of Raven and Sarah, an unlikely team who work together in 1840s Edinburgh to solve a series of murders. It's a gripping historical crime novel with a background of medicine and the discovery of anaesthetic.
This novel is the excellent work of 2 authors; Chris Brookmyre crime and sci-fi writer and Marisa Haetzman a consultant anaesthetist, who happen to be husband and wife! Here they have joined forces to write a novel full to the brim with action and excitement and incredible historical accuracy. Sometimes I find, that with two authors the writing can be fairly clunky and the different authors' work is very obvious which makes reading the novel difficult and jarring as the styles change. However, with this novel this was not an issue. The whole novel flows seamlessly. It is impossible to see the seams between what the two authors have written and where they link together.
The setting of the novel is well-crafted, the attention to detail is excellent. It's an atmospheric novel, and this well-created setting/atmosphere of 1840s Edinburgh is crucial in this. The authors perfectly manage the setting, it has depth and dimension and seems to come off the page and totally envelope the reader in the smoke of the city.
This is a very quick read. The plot is so fast-paced. The combination of historical novel and crime novel means the novel is difficult to put down! The plot twists and turns as suspects are met and dismissed, and the action takes the reader and the main characters on a rollercoaster of adventures and emotions as we all try to figure out "who-dunnit"! 
I really loved the character in the novel too, Sarah was my particular favourite. I was so frustrated by the lack of options and opportunities available to her and other woman in similar situation in the past, and the way she felt during the novel was so understandable and made her very easy to relate to.
Overall I loved this novel. It's an excellent historical crime novel and the medical background makes it interesting and different from other historical crime novels set in the 1800s. If you like E.S Thomson or Laura Purcell you should check this novel out!!
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The Way of All Flesh is  a great historical fiction crime novel. Parry (a husband and wife writing duo) combine his years of writing mysteries and her expertise as a doctor to create a fascinating book starring Will Raven, a medical student turned amateur detective. Raven is joined by housemaid Sarah, and together they go about looking for clues of the death of Raven's friend, Evie, and soon others. 

Parry does a great job detailing 1847 Edinburgh and at the medical procedures of that time. You get completely immersed in the descriptions they wrote. It is clearly a well-researched piece of fiction, one that I believe historical fiction and mystery lovers alike will enjoy.
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With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
"Edinburgh, 1847. City of Medicine, Money, Murder. Young women are being discovered dead across the Old Town, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. In the New Town, medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprenticeship with the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson. Simpson’s patients range from the richest to the poorest of this divided city. His house is like no other, full of visiting luminaries and daring experiments in the new medical frontier of anaesthesia."

This is very atmospheric story telling, set in the dark Edinburgh underworld of poverty and prostitution. Throw in a young medical student with a past, a bright but uneducated housemaid and a murder or two and you have a thoroughly engaging tale with enough twists to keep the suspense going from start to finish. However, I did find some of the more descriptive medical practices a little gruesome and distracting hence 4 not 5 stars. I had not come across this author before and this is the first of a new series of related stories. I would recommend this book and look forward to future installments.
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I really wanted to like this book! Atmospheric neo-Victorian medical mystery is exactly my aesthetic, but I ended up not even getting half way through it. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood, but this book didn't feel  gritty enough. It felt a little too modern, particularly the character of Sarah. 
My library did purchase it and I wouldn't steer a patron away from it, but I probably wouldn't recommend it myself.
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I loved the historical accuracy of The Way of All Flesh.  It's a slow burn, but worth the wait.  It really pays off.  It was a dark, atmospheric murder mystery that I'll definitely be recommending to fans of the genre.
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This is a fun mystery! Well, not fun - a lot of women die, unfortunately. But this gritty tale takes as its main characters a young man studying to become a doctor in order to move past his inauspicious youth and a young woman who must encounter sexism at every turn in her role as housemaid slash budding doctor. When the two discover that young women across the city are dying painful deaths, they band together to expose the truth. The part of me that wishes I could time-travel to find out who Jack the Ripper was really appreciated this book. I wouldn't have minded it being a little more feminist, though!
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This is fantastic read.  The characters are vivid and engaging and Scotland in the 1800's is brought to life in exquisite detail.  Sarah is a wonderfully forthright and intelligent woman, a welcome change from the stereotypical housemaid of that time.  Will is a thoughtful and open-minded individual, despite being young and flawed.  The are both the heroes of this novel, equally sharing the narrative and showing the reader that no one person needs to be the protagonist.
I just loved it.  Can't wait for the next book.
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 I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

DNF at 50%. I went into this book expecting crime/ thriller, but what I got was mostly medical history. The Way of all Flesh is a deeply atmospheric tale set against the seedy backdrop of 1847 Edinburgh. It grips you from the beginning, opening with the horrific murder of a "whore" by our resident psychopath. Although the language is at times anachronistic, there is mystery here and intrigue at the fringes of the story. 

But 50% through the book and it never goes beyond that. Rather, the story focuses more on the medical history and its evolution at this period. The prose is richly detailed and meticulously written. But terribly boring and dry despite the goriness of some scenes.  As with the name of the authors, there are easter eggs hidden all over the book for readers with some background in medicine. Since I wasn't one of them, most of this stuff went right over my head. 

As with the plot, the characters also held potential. Will Raven is a deeply flawed protagonist with shades of mystery in his past. He is selfish, self-important, and at times ridiculously pompous. And yet I found his character endearing. Similarly, Sarah was another interesting character with her smarts and ambition particularly in a time when women were valued for neither. Unfortunately, the glacial pace and utterly dry plot meant that I just didn't care enough about any of these characters. Slogging through this book was a painful experience. 1.5 star for the tone and attention to detail.
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Annie from A Bookish Type steered me towards this historical mystery and I’m glad I took her advice. I’m a sucker for good period pieces with good research interwoven with a good story. The Way of All Flesh checks all most boxes (you know I’m picky).

The setting is 1847 Edinburgh, and by my book it’s already a good point: you might already know that I can’t resist a good Scottish mystery, especially after we visited the city a few years ago. Edinburgh really comes alive in its different neighborhoods, with a stark contrast between the seedy, gloomy, disease- and poverty-ridden Old Town, and the posh, clean and safe New Town.

The mystery takes place among doctors, especially obstetricians and surgeons, and it was quite fascinating to learn how operations and childbirth played out at this time. It was quite risky (this much I knew), but without anesthesia it was also a gore and terrifying show. Surgeons operated in front of an audience of young medical students while poor patients were aware of every single thing done to them. I was also very interested to learn about the search for the right product to desensitize patients and women in labor, and how doctors experimented products on themselves (with all the risks involved!). I had never heard of the famous obstetrician Sir James Young Simpson, and I’m glad that he’s more than a passing cameo in this book, as the main character is actually an apprentice at his practice.

My only reservations are for the female main character, Sarah, a housemaid who is eager to learn science and medicine, and is angry at the limitation of her gender and station. She is one of these characters who seems to have a 21st century brain stuck in a 19th century body. It’s actually one of my pet peeves, but luckily the other fine qualities of the story, pace and background far outweigh this little flaw. I understand that this is meant to be the first book in a series, and I’d gladly read the next adventure.

An interesting tidbit is that Ambrose Parry is actually a couple who write together: Chris Brookmyre, a writer of thrillers and his wife, Marisa Haetzman, who worked as an anaesthetist. No wonder that the research is so accurate!
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It took a while for this book to hit its stride with me. Will Raven, apprentice obstetrician/midwife, has arrived to take his training with Dr Simpson, a well-regarded and respected obstetrician in the city of Edinburgh. Will has ideas and dreams of grandeur, even as he works as an unpaid apprentice with Dr Simpson, working clinics and attending to the care of both the downtrodden and the more well-to-do pregnant women of the city.

We meet Will at the scene in a deceased prostitute's room, one he is 'familiar' with. Instead of contacting the police, he leaves, although does feel a twinge of guilt for leaving her discovery to someone else (her landlady most likely). 

Then it is more or less forgotten until almost 40% of the way through the book, when it was brought up again and I thought, 'Right. It's a murder mystery!' We then get two more murders, both of whom are women of lower classes (a housemaid and another prostitute). Will involves himself in the search for the murderer, and the household maid, Sarah, decides she must assist (she is very bright and avails herself of Dr Simpson's library books, many of which are medical). They are both very capable characters for this, as Sarah can talk to household staff unobtrusively and Will can come and go 'upstairs' on his appointments.

I did enjoy it, however, despite pegging the murderer quite early on. It's a bit of a slow read, but the ending is tied up nicely. It 'simmers' rather than 'boils', and I will keep an eye out for the second book.
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I requested this title due to the creepy title and the interesting cover art. I have to say that both of those two things are super important for hooking potential readers and they did a good job on that front. For me it was a slow read and I often got stuck as well as distracted by other titles on my reading list. Therefore, it took me a while to finish it. Also because it took me so long to finish my recollection of it is not crystal clear, so I may edit this review later to be more accurate. But overall, the story peaked my interest and was one of the better titles I've got off NetGalley. It's hard to make historical fiction not super dry and I think Ambrose Parry kept it accurate and giving off a dark vibe. Will and Sarah were both interesting enough, especially Sarah and her issues with women's rights back in the 19th century. So yes, overall, a good read and would possibly read another title by  Parry.
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