A Corruption of Blood, released on the 19th August, is the third instalment of Ambroise Parry’s crime fiction series in which Dr Will Raven, and aspiring doctor Sarah Fisher solve murders in Victorian Edinburgh.
For those who are already fans of David Ashton’s McLevy, one of TCFs favourite crime drama radio series, this will not disappoint. Especially as McLevy himself makes more than one appearance, although seen through eyes who are less kind to him than his regular readers may be.
In this book Raven and Sarah set out on separate investigations. Raven’s into the death of a wealthy, and unloved pillar of the Edinburgh establishment, and Sarah’s into infants who have disappeared into a wall of silence. Parry takes us through both the high and low society of Edinburgh but we find in both of them calculated crime, devious intent and women struggling under rigid morality the consequences of which men often invade.
Amoung the two twisting plots, and the juicy developing love triangle, we glimpse real people and medical history, such as Charles Byrn the Irish Giant and the chloroform Guinee pig debacle, which have long since faded from popular memory. These details add a richness to Parry’s Edinburgh, and indeed the marriage of crime and medicine is a fruitful one.
Although Corruption does weave in and out of Victorian sex and consequences this is not a gritty expose with complex, ambiguous charactors. Indeed Raven’s frequent need to muse on his own propensity to violence while fingering his scar threatens at times to tips the charactor into slightly cartoonish territory, but manages to pull out at the last moment
First and foremost Corruption is a fun read, engaging and alive with detail. I’d thoroughly recommend this for those who particularly like their crime historical.
Also recommended: The Edinburgh Detective, the real life McLevy’s diary from his time policing Edinburgh. It was a best seller in his day, and is still not out of print. It is possible to find in it a compassion and understanding, that contemporary portraits of the Victorian’s don’t always show.