1929. A girl is strangled in a London alley, the mangled corpse of a peeping Tom is found in a railway tunnel and the juicy details of the latest trunk murder are updated hourly in fresh editions of the evening papers. Into this insalubrious world steps Dora Strang, a doctor’s daughter with an unmaidenly passion for anatomy. Denied her own medical career, she moves into lodgings with a hilarious, insecticidal landlady and begins life as filing clerk to the country’s pre-eminent pathologist, Alfred Kemble. Dora is thrilled by the grisly post-mortems and the headline-grabbing court cases and more fascinated still by the pathologist himself: an enigmatic war hero with bottle-green eyes and an air of sardonic glamour – the embodiment of all her girlish fantasies. But Dora’s job holds more than a few surprises, not least of which is finding herself frequently under the watchful gaze – and occasionally wandering hands – of the distinguished Dr Kemble. As things take a distinctly ghastly turn, both in one of the department’s major cases and in Dora’s own life, the newspaper reporters sharpen their pencils in morbid anticipation …But can the impressionable Miss Strang emerge unscathed?
I’m not really sure how to start on this book. I’m not sure if I liked it or not. It took me a week to read it, it was kind of like a chore to get it done. I liked the main character, Dora Strang. I would enjoy following more of her life, but… The timing was off in the story or something. I felt like it went at a frenetic pace at times yet took forever to get there. See what I mean about not knowing how to write about it? I kept feeling like I had missed something and found myself, a couple of times, flipping back a few pages to see what I had missed and didn’t find anything.
I did like the time period, and the morgue setting and descriptions of the workings of it. they were quite ‘ghastly’ actually! If you like forensics then you’ll like that about the book. The trial scenes were very interesting. And I did like the characters in the book. I liked the humor and the wording. Dora was forever lapsing into romantic daydreams that involved quite sexual descriptions. She had a very vivid imagination from reading her father’s secret stash of pornographic novels. In the acknowledgements the author states that ‘the quotes from Dora’s secret stash of pornographic novellas are authentic’. It was quite entertaining! The crimes are of a sexual nature too. Syphilis and gonorrhoea seemed to be rampant in 1920’s London! For a period where sex was not talked about it seemed to be all they thought about!
Having finished it and chewed on it a little while, I would have to say I liked it. But I’m glad it’s finished!
This book counts toward the R.I.P challenge @ Stainless Steel Droppings
Stop over there and check out some of the other ‘spooky’ tales!