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The Anatomy of Ghosts

3.3  ·  Rating Details ·  1,170 Ratings  ·  233 Reviews
Please note that this is an Advanced Readers Copy, and not the actual published paperback edition.
Paperback, Advanced Readers Copy
Published 2010 by Hyperion
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(showing 1-30 of 2,861)
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I loved The Anatomy of Ghosts and wonder why I haven’t been reading all of Andrew Taylor’s books. I certainly intend to make up for what I’ve been missing.

The Anatomy of Ghosts takes place at eighteenth century (1786) Cambridge College and revolves around bookseller and bookbinder John Holdsworth. John is a tragic figure. After his small son, Georgie, drowns in the Thames, John cannot forgive himself for failing to save the boy, and his wife, Maria, also overcome with grief, spends all her time
Meh.. this is not the book I am looking for (to coin a phrase)

I was looking for: a 'post-halloween'creepy book with atmosphere and some ghosts.

I got: insight into 1780s English society and the dire straits of academia (events take place against a 'Cambridge college' background). AND...
I found out how privies were emptied (I had actually wondered about this in the past - honest!)

In summary:
The pace of the narrative was slow, especially in the first half. For me, the book lacked atmosphere and m
A good friend of mine raves about Andrew Taylor, and now I know why. I'd never read anything by him before, so when I saw The Anatomy of Ghosts available to advanced reviewers, I jumped on the chance to read it - and I very much enjoyed it. I will definitely be on the lookout for more of his books.

The story takes place mainly at Cambridge University, where a young student claims to have seen a ghost and is taken to a nearby sanitarium for treatment. His mother, Lady Anne, who is connected with
Jun 03, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The Anatomy of Ghosts is a murder mystery set in seventeenth century Britain, in the city of Cambridge, at the fictional Jerusalem College, which the preface tells us is modeled after the nonfictional Emmanuel College. The amateur detective called in to investigate the deaths has just written a scathing indictment of psychic phenomenon of any kind, chiefly ghosts. Because some Cambridge residents have claimed to see ghosts of the victims, the officials at the college think an amateur skilled in ...more
There are all sorts of reasons why The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor should have been a winner: it's a historical mystery; it's a historical mystery with academic ties; it started out so very promising and held that for about the first 100 pages. But then it just kind of lost me. And it isn't the first time that Taylor has done that to me--although I didn't realize it until after I had gotten all interested in the book (when I first heard about it last year) and put it down for a few challe ...more
The Anatomy of Ghosts – a great title.
A mystery – one of my favorite genres.
Ghosts – love those, too, or rather I love to read about them.
Cambridge in 1786, a small college, a secret society – put them all together and you have a novel with great promise.

The prologue and first chapter are quite creepy. And then Holdsworth, a down-on-his-luck printer and bookseller, is sent from London to Cambridge, ostensibly to assess the college's library, but actually to help a rich student who has apparently
I'm rounding up from 2.5 stars...

This novel was very slowly paced, I grew to like the characters by the end but it was a very slow growth. I would not characterize this novel the way the publisher has by calling it a "suspenseful thriller", doing so will only serve to set readers up for disappointment. I also disagree with Rhys Bowen's description of this novel, she says that it is "...a journey into an exquisitely detailed Eighteenth Century".
Period details are not particularly abundant and the
Jan 01, 2012 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ron by: Jon Moss
I like it. A fun read. Good world building: England 230 years ago is as foreign, if not as obscure, as Rome 2000 years ago. Competent--if not dazzling plotting. Though the solution to the mystery was obvious early on, Taylor unravels it slowing enough to maintain interest.

One irritating devise is Taylor's restricting the reader to the point-of-view characters knowledge and thoughts, but not all of what the character knows or conjectures. At several critical plot points, revelations are further
Amy Corwin
Jan 05, 2011 Amy Corwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish there were more stars to give because I don't know when I've enjoyed a book more.

John Holdsworth is a printer and bookseller who has a series of misfortunes that devastate his life. His son is drowned and his wife slowly goes mad with grief, giving money to mediums who tell her they have messages for her from her son. This terrible situation leads John to write a book called The Anatomy of Ghosts, in which he debunks ghostly sightings and messages from the dead.

Sadly, his wife then drowns
Oct 18, 2014 Gail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ian so glad I have discovered Andrew Taylor. I just want to devour anything written by him. I am trying to be sensible and read the hundreds of other books on my kindle, some which have been waiting patiently to be read for some time, but am really struggling to disengage from his books.

I absolutely adored The Roth Trilogy (my first encounter with Andrew Taylor) and didn't have high hopes for this as I thought nothing could surpass this utterly exceptional trilogy; but I should have had more fa
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
This elegant story of ghosts & madness takes place in Cambridge in late 1700's. It’s a fabulous read full of the interesting twists & turns of a well developed mystery story. I’d highly recommend it.
Reader, I Read It
Sep 25, 2010 Reader, I Read It rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the obvious ghost thriller but more a tale of hauntings that have more impact than bumps in the night. This sophisticated feel to the story gives credit to Andrew Taylor's new novel The Anatomy of Ghosts.

It is the sighting of Lady Whichcote, recently drowned in the grounds of Jerusalem College, Cambridge, which sends Frank Oldershaw into the asylum. Desperate to salvage her son's reputation, Lady Anne Oldershaw hires the services of John Holdsworth, author of a book discrediting the spirit
Jan 19, 2011 JackieB rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I was disappointed by this historical mystery. My main problem was with the plot. It was intruiging at the start, but got slower and slower as the book progressed. I got half way through and realised that I really didn't care what happened, so I abandoned it. I think part of the problem was that none of the characters particularly "stood out", and I had trouble remembering who some of the minor characters were, so I didn't have a "need" to read on when the plot slowed down.
I didn't think the hi
Ronald Roseborough
This is the story of John Holdsworth, a down and out bookseller in late eighteenth century England, who has recently lost his young son to a drowning accident. This is soon followed by the suicide by drowning of his despondent wife. He had written a book entitled, "The Anatomy of Ghosts" to try and shake his wife free of the belief that she could communicate with her dead son through a charlatan medium. John's attempt to bring her back to reality only exacerbated the problem and may have driven ...more
Sylvere ap Leanan
I love historical novels and anything to do with the paranormal, so I was looking forward to reading The Anatomy of Ghosts. This was my first experience with Andrew Taylor's work, but he's an accomplished writer, so my expectations were high. Although I enjoyed The Anatomy of Ghosts, it didn't live up to those expectations.

The majority of the story takes place in 18th Century England, in a fictional college on the grounds of Cambridge University and in the surrounding city. On the plus side, Th
Jan 15, 2011 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I've always liked books set in Oxbridge. It's the lush romanticism of it all that I got from a little too much Brideshead Revisited, I suppose. The Anatomy of Ghosts takes place in an imaginary college in Cambridge in the late 18th century - a favorite time period for me. It has hellfire clubs and faculty politics, illicit love and evil lords and their equally evil minions - throw in the possibility of ghosts, an inconvenient murder, and a mad heir and this would've been a fun romp through a pre ...more
Apr 29, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Holdsworth is having a tough time making ends meet. Living in 1780’s London, Holdsworth was once able to provide for his family through the ownership of a modest bookstore, supplementing that income from the authorship of a book called The Anatomy of Ghosts. But recently things have turned sour for Holdsworth, as both his wife and young son have drowned within weeks of each other, and his property has been taken from him. Just when he thinks all is lost, he’s granted an audience with Lady A ...more
Jul 04, 2013 Sher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second novel I've read written by Andrew Taylor, and like the first it's atmospheric, filled with mystery, darkness, and love, redemption, and many layers. Several of themes resonant with me -- university politics, 19th century class tensions, book collections, ghosts, and marriages of conveniences. The book is basically about ghosts, or more specifically hauntings people have because of past actions. The Anatomy of ghosts refers to a short book written by Holdsworth-- the main chara ...more
Julie Smith (Knitting and Sundries)
It is 1786, the night of the Last Supper at the Holy Ghost Club. All of the disciples are finishing up their toasts, and St. Peter (Frank Oldershaw) is preparing to be inducted. As he goes to take his sacrifice, tragedy strikes. Now Frank is residing in the house of Dr. Jermyn, with his mind apparently broken, speaking of ghosts and quacking like a duck.

John Holdsworth is a former bookseller, on the verge of penury, having lost in quick succession his son, his wife, his business, and his home. H
The Anatomy of Ghosts is an entertaining historical mystery set in and around Cambridge University in the late 18th century. I should read historical mysteries more often because I almost always enjoy them - and this one was no exception.

When London bookseller John Holdsworth's son is drowned in a tragic accident, his wife insists that their little boy is communicating with them from the spirit world. Holdsworth doesn't agree and is so disgusted by his wife's claims that he decides to write a bo
Jul 18, 2010 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Taylor is a very prolific author with over forty novels under his belt but he didn't come to my attention until 2003 with the publication of his first historical crime novel, The American Boy which was one of the Richard and Judy Book Club choices. I have been a fan ever since and equally enjoyed Bleeding Heart Square published in 2008.

In The Anatomy of Ghosts we are plunged into the murky, quirky world of Cambrige University in 1786, focussing particularly on the goings on at Jerusalem C
Apr 21, 2011 Virginia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After the death of his son and wife John Holdsworth closes his book store and is hired by Lady Oldershaw to catelog her late husbands library and more importantly to help her son who seems to have had a mental break down at school.
John soon finds all is not as it seems at Cambrdge what with "the Holy Ghost society" and sightings of ghost.
The book has a plot that draws you in but I kept finding myself lost and bored and waitting for the story to get back on track. I did something I never do in th
Bookmarks Magazine
Apr 06, 2011 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: may-june-2011
Reviewers have come to expect the best from Andrew Taylor’s historical mysteries. As the Guardian critic pointed out, he does not write “whodunits” so much as “whydunnits”—mysteries that ultimately help explain why people in the past thought and behaved the way they did. Most reviewers argued that Taylor did just that in this novel. While a few critics felt the plot was somewhat strained, they felt his descriptions and characters were spot-on, which helped readers imagine the mix of superstition ...more
Sid Nuncius
Mar 29, 2016 Sid Nuncius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was an outstandingly good book. Rather to my shame I hadn't come across Andrew Taylor before and picked this up because it was recommended on Radio 4 as one of the best crime novels of 2010. They were right, and I will certainly be reading more of Andrew Taylor's books.

The plot has been well summarised in other reviews here so I won't go into it again, but it is involving, exciting and very well paced. I found that for at least the last couple of hundred pages I was completely gri
Jennifer L.
Filled with atmosphere and detail, this historical fiction is transporting. Taking place in Cambridge in 1786, the novel moves fluidly between personal drama and mystery, centering on believable and flawed characters who may well draw any reader into the story.

The disconnect actually occurs in the novel's description being a far match from what the book explores. Readers basing their choice off of the book jacket will expect, at the least, suspense, and potentially a wander through the supernatu
Mar 23, 2015 Marsha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor was the best book I've read all year. It was firmly set in 1786 Britain at fictitious Jerusalem College in Cambridge University. The main character, John Holdsworth(a recent down on his luck widower and former bookseller) has been hired by Lady Anne Oldershaw to investigate the sudden madness of her son, Frank, who claims to have seen the ghost of a recent suicide - the wife of another resident of the Cambridge area.

Holdsworth is thought to be something of
May 22, 2011 Kay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
The one thing I took away from this book was how bad Cambridge smelled in the 18th century. Every chapter, right to the bitter end, describes the stink ad nauseum. No doubt this adds to the authenticity, but what with the frequent vomiting, ritual rape of virgins as an initiation ceremony (by men calling themselves Jesus and the twelve apostles), and the general corruption of the university, I had a hard time finishing this one.
Ty Partridge
May 16, 2011 Ty Partridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this and quite enjoyed it. The language is true to the period and the story would be perfect for Masterpiece Mystery series. 18th century intrigue at a fictional English College. There are many story lines that could have been developed further, especially in the relationships among characters, but for a nice evening escape it is good.
Dana Clinton
Jun 13, 2015 Dana Clinton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent mystery set in old England once again, this time in Cambridge, at a fictional college named Jerusalem. Mr Holdsworth has lost his young son to drowning and a bit later his wife as well. He has also written a book debunking the existence of ghosts. He is down on his luck when he is hired by a widowed noblelady in London ostensibly to catalogue her late husband's library before offering it to Jerusalem college, which is an establishment supported by the family largesse. But truly she ...more
Apr 24, 2016 Palmyrah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn’t a ghost story, okay? It was never meant to be one. Andrew Taylor is an award-winning crime novelist and that’s what genre it says it is on the back of the paperback I read: ‘Crime’.

It’s also a historical novel set in a Cambridge college during the reign of King George III. The ‘ghost hunter’ is in reality a detective. He doesn’t even believe in ghosts.

As crime fiction, it doesn’t work as well as some I’ve read, but I’m not really a big fan of that genre. As an absorbing historical nov
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Andrew Taylor (b. 1951) is a British author of mysteries. Born in East Anglia, he attended university at Cambridge before getting an MA in library sciences from University College London. His first novel, Caroline Miniscule (1982), a modern-day treasure hunt starring history student William Dougal, began an eight-book series and won Taylor wide critical acclaim. He has written several other thrill ...more
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