Crime,  Latest Reads,  Thriller

The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry

Firstly, of course, a big Thank you to Anne Cater for organising this #Blogtour and allowing me to be part of it. Jamie Norman at Canongate Books and of course the authors – Chris and Marissa.

 A vivid and gripping historical crime novel set in 19th century Edinburgh, by bestselling author Chris Brookmyre and consultant anaesthetist Dr Marisa Haetzman

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 Way of All Flesh is the first in a series of historical crime novels. It will appeal to fans of C.J. Sansom, S.J. Parris and historical crime fiction, as well of fans of Brookmyre’s own writing.
  • The Way of All Flesh contains real life characters and events including:
  • Dr James Simpson, pioneer of chloroform
  • The invention of anaesthesia and its early use in obstetric procedures
  • The influence of the newly established Free Church of Scotland
  • The work of photography pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson
  • It has already been optioned by SunnyMarch for Film/TV and has sold into seven territories to date.


‘Parry’s Victorian Edinburgh comes vividly alive – and it’s a world of pain’ VAL McDERMID

‘An astonishing debut. The dark and dangerous past is brought thrillingly to life. I can’t wait to read more.’ MARK BILLINGHAM

‘I adored this atmospheric, enthralling novel. Victorian Edinburgh comes thrillingly to life’ JENNY COLGAN


Chris Brookmyre and
Marisa Haetzman

 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, including Black Widow, winner of both the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this novel was based. The Way of All Flesh is the first book in the series. @ambroseparry

My Review:

Will Raven – has been brought up in a school for Fatherless boys, at his Uncles expense, out of duty to his sister. A matter his money consious Uncle likes to remind his mother and Will about reglarly.

Will finds himself lucky enough to gain an apprenticeship, with Dr. Simpson – a highly regarded obstetrician in Edinburgh. He quickly becomes accustomed to the inherent wealth and far more salubrious furnishings of Dr Simpson’s well-to-do townhouse practice, than his previous living quarters in the the squalid and tattered lodgings he kept in the Old town, run down, dirty and filled with dark alleys in which the debt collector Mr Flint is lurking, waiting for Will.

Will’s new job requires him, to administer Ether – new to the medicinal world and not always welcomed by Dr. Simpson’s many laboring mothers, who would do well to heed his advice. And not suffer the pains of labor, having read Parry’s detailed and atmospheric descriptions of the agonies which they must endure. But the Revered Grissom has been preaching and argues that it is not safe and Mothers should go through birth without pain relief. Despite the fact, he as a man can not completely comprehend the pain which can occur and one that he will of course, never encounter.

After a difficult start Will becomes friends with Sarah Fisher, the Simpson’s housemaid and it is together they try and solve what the cause of death was to two of their friends – Evie – Will’s friend, was a prostitute and so her death is duly ignored by McLevy the Police chief in charge of her death. And Rose – Sarah’s friend, also a housemaid and so another considered too low in status to be concerned about when her body is dragged from the river. But their deaths contain similarities that Will and Sarah cannot ignore.

Sarah reads a great character and strives to better herself and has a mind as good as any of the medical men that pass through Simpson’s door. She reads and assists the Doctor in his home practice, and would like to do more but women were never Doctors in those days, merely maids with intellect and endeavor beyond their reach.

Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman have used their combined knowledge and created a beautifully sculpted, historical narrative, flowing and descriptive novel. The use of medical terms and medicines of the day have created the perfect pairing with crime thriller and medical history mixing socially and seamlessly between the pages. A wonderful insight into the use of Ether – or lack of and how the world has progressed from the agonizing operations that were once performed, into the world as we know it today and the wonderful NHS we know so well, in the UK. I have 3 children – 2 born naturally and know how painful childbirth can be, and that it’s soon over. But to think that all amputations and operations were done without the use of anesthetics makes me glad I am alive in the present day and not the 1847 Edinburgh version.

A book for any historical crime fans – 5/5 from me !

@ambroseparry @canongatebooks #TheWayofAllFlesh @annecater

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