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The Way of All Flesh

(Raven, Fisher, and Simpson #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,507 ratings  ·  413 reviews
A vivid and gripping historical crime novel set in 19th century Edinburgh, from husband-and-wife writing team Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman

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 apprentices
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Canongate Books (first published August 2018)
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Sharyn I Googled Ambrose Parry and this is what I found.
"Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The…more
I Googled Ambrose Parry and this is what I found.
"Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The couple are married and live in Scotland."(less)

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3.99  · 
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 ·  1,507 ratings  ·  413 reviews

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Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Edinburgh 1847, a time when ruthless medical experiments were being carried out, quite often by the unscrupulous, those whose patients were of no consequence, who’s lives mattered little when set against the desire for fame and fortune.

Against this backdrop, Will Raven secures himself an apprenticeship with the much respected obstetrician Doctor Simpson.

The story begins with the suspicious death of Will’s prostitute friend Evie, but her death ( as we are about to find out) is only just the begin
This is a deliciously atmospheric piece of historical crime fiction from the husband and wife authors, Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman, set in Victorian Edinburgh, a city split between the poverty stricken and dark underbelly of the Old Town and the more genteel wealthy households of New Town. This is a story about Edinburgh's heyday as the prominent player in its contributions towards the progress of medicine intertwined with the murder of young women, prostitutes, deemed to be of little co ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, crime, europe
What a pleasant surprise this book! Great historical crime fiction read, very well written, full of atmosphere and details of Edinburgh in the year 1847. I actually picked this book up at Waterstones Edinburgh recently, they did of course promote it extra as a local book, upfront in the store in stacks, but rightly so, I was not disappointed!
More later, for those who like the combination of crime and history, this is a really good book!
"Science never solves a problem without creating ten more." (George Bernard Shaw)

It's the winter of 1847 in Edinburgh. Medical science seems to pounce upon new and innovative means of so-called advancements. Avant-garde, experimental methods are in both the hands of the charlatans and in the hands of the highly skilled. Your social status, unfortunately, will determine whose hands will guide your fate.

Will Raven, a young medical apprentice, quickly closes the door of Evie's room. Until this mome
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel gripped me! Edinborough, 1840s, poor people, rich people and medical experiments in search of a new medicament. And, a murder or two, naturally. The debut is fantastic! The Authors recreated the atmosphere of the city, were very particular regarding social details and introduced two main characters who, I'm sure will reappear in another novel very soon. Thanks to all my GR friends whose reviews encouraged me to read The Way of All Flesh! :)
*I submitted a full review to Netgally in exc
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
Tantalizing • Eerie • Magnificent

"No decent story ought to begin with a dead prostitute, and for that, apologies, for it is not something upon which respectable persons would desire to dwell."
- Ambrose Parry

Think about that title! THE WAY OF ALL FLESH. What is the way of all flesh? Is there a commonality in the behavior of all flesh? Is it a reaction of all flesh? Is it the growth or decomposition of all flesh? Or is it merely the greed of those with flesh? As I was reading this novel, it made
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
'The Way of All Flesh' written by husband and wife writing duo Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry is a gloriously atmospheric and authentic 19th century historical crime novel. It really is superb! I read a lot of crime stories, but I don't come across a lot that are set in such wonderful surroundings as this. Victorian era Edinburgh is a dangerous place with all kinds of misadventure and misdemeanors taking place. The plot fizzes with kinetic energy, and the d ...more
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a historical fiction mystery with a medical flavour. Set in Edinburgh in the mid 1800s, this was an interesting comparison to London, where most novels from this period are usually set (in my reading experience anyway!) it was absolutely fascinating to learn about the early development of anaesthesia and how these were tested. No formal trials or safeguards were in place.; but also interesting to see how progress in this field went hand in hand with the ability to perform more successfu ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first in a new, historical crime series, which is sure to find many fans. Set in Edinburgh, 1847, Will Raven is a young man who is about to become the assistant to Dr Simpson; an early Obstetrician. Will is a man who is keen to make his fortune; not least as he recently borrowed from a moneylender, in order to help out Evie Lawson. Evie was a prostitute that he befriended and hoped to help – however, when he arrives to visit her and finds her dead, he is ashamed to find himself slink ...more
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stars-4-0, 2018
Historical mysteries have always fascinated me and to find one focusing on the medical world of the 19th century was something I couldn’t miss.

The story revolves around Will Raven, a young medical student, who becomes apprenticed to a renowned obstetrician, and Sarah Fisher, Dr Simpson’s housemaid, a young intelligent woman who would love to study medicine but due to her gender and class cannot. Although taking a dislike to each other, Will and Sarah end up working together when they find out th
(3.5) This historical novel set in Edinburgh in 1847 has one of the best opening paragraphs I’ve come across in a while. It immediately sets the tone: realistic, sly, and somewhat seedy. If the title sounds familiar, it’s because it’s borrowed from Samuel Butler’s gloomy 1903 meditation on sin and salvation in several generations of a Victorian family. I remember trudging through it on a weekend break to Strasbourg during my year abroad.

Parry (a pseudonym for husband–wife duo Chris Brookmyre and
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
Thank you Netgalley and Canongate Books for the ARC.

A lot is happening in 1847's Edinburgh. Will Raven is set upon by thugs for not returning money borrowed from a loanshark. Then the girl he borrowed the money for is found dead. Meanwhile he's moving from the old to the new part of town to start as an apprentice for Dr. Simpson, obstetrician. In between seeing patients he also helps his collegues in finding a workable anesthetic.
The book gives a good account of the use of ether and its sometime
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, arc, historical
Briefly - Entertaining historical/medical read.

In full
Historical fiction is something I only read from time to time. However I'd seen a few good reviews for this and one half of the writing team is Christopher Brookmyre a favourite author of mine. The other part of the team is apparently his wife, a consultant anaesthetist, who brings her obviously extensive medical knowledge into play here. The book focusses strongly on medicine, the medical profession and their quests for improved treatment. S
Michael Cayley
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A novel that starts with the suspicious death of a prostitute in mid-19th century Edinburgh, but whose interest lies less in the crime aspects of the plot than in the depiction of the seamy side of Edinburgh life, attitudes to social class, and medical practices of the time. The central characters are a poor apprentice obstetrician with a secret in his own past which he is determined to rise above, and a house maid who helps out in the doctor’s surgery and whose intelligence and skills have not ...more
Lili  Marcus
More bookish stuffs: @Lili's Blissful Pages

3.5 stars.

This is Historical Fiction at its best. 

Set in 1840s Edinburgh, this book follows the story of a young man, Will Raven, who has a past he's trying to run away from. He's set to make a name in medicine and was given a chance to be an apprentice of the well-known, esteemed professor of midwifery, James Young Simpson. There, Will Raven meets Sarah Fisher, a young maid who aspires to be more than what she is, a nd especially more than what women
The Cats Mother
I knew going in to this that Ambrose Parry is a collaboration between Christopher Brookmyre, who is arguably my favourite Scottish author (neck & neck with Val McD) and his wife, Marisa Haetzman, who I knew was an anaesthetist. Had I gone in blind, I would never have guessed the former, but I would definitely picked the author to be a doctor who knows Edinburgh well. This takes my favourite genres - crime, historical, and medical, with a strong female heroine - what's not to love - but witho ...more
Karen ⊰✿
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uno_2019, netgalley
Edinburgh 1947 and medical student Will Raven has found himself apprenticed to the very famous Dr Simpson. Will is not the usual gentleman... In fact he is quite penniless and owes money to a cutthroat gang who he tries to dodge as he attends procedures with Dr Simpson. At the same time he is convinced there is a murderer targeting prostitutes and housemaids, including someone quite close to him.
Sarah, the very smart and intuitive housemaid to Dr Simpson, works out quickly something is a bit di
Sep 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm abandoning this at 34%. It may be accurate about the history of medical care in Edinburgh in 1847, but the language is ridiculously anachronistic. I tried my best to ignore "...if he was made of chocolate would surely eat himself, were his appetites not so abstemious" - José Mourinho, presumably, time-travelling back to Edinburgh - but I choked at "As Raven's mother might have put it, he was wearing the clothes; the clothes weren't wearing him." No, Raven's mother wouldn't have put it like t ...more
Bon ~
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Solid four stars! This turned out way better than I expected! The plot summary caught my interest, and that title was really neat, but I have to be honest, the first few pages I was worried I was reading another male author who would write about women as ‘females’ and in the worst light. Then I realized two things: this Ambrose Parry is a husband and wife writing duo, and the female influence quickly becomes apparent. The wife is a real doctor, and it changes everything. This book was spectacula ...more
Arybo ✨

Primum non nocere.
Do no arm: the Hippocratic injunction.


⬇Reviews in 🇬🇧 and 🇮🇹

🇬🇧 3.5

What is The Way of All Flesh about?
It Is the story of a doctor apprentice who works in Edinburgh in 1847, and tries to use ether and his scientific knowledge to help women giving birth to children. There is a problem, however: someone is killing women in labor, usually housemaids or prostitutes who tried to hide their conditions up at
Jayne Catherine pinkett
Review coming soon
I was sent an early copy of this book for my independent honest review I read the premise of this and was very excited to get to it. A historical crime with medical content is a refreshing change to many new releases at the moment. Straight away I became engaged in the plot and writing style and couldn't put this down. An early murder and an interesting selection of characters was a big plus for me. Once we started attending births, the research into early anaesthetic and how D
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 t
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When we meet Will, he is leaning over the body of a dead whore and before the night is through, thugs will accost him. The dead woman is someone he befriended and lent money to. The thugs are looking to collect said money. Thus on Will’s first day of his apprenticeship for Dr. Simpson, he arrives in rumbled clothes, sporting a rather sorry looking eye.

Their newest resident intrigues Sarah, the doctor’s receptionist and upstairs maid. Parry hooked me from the start and I easily slipped into the s
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, scotland
Fascinating novel set in 19th century Scotland-- a medical mystery in which an apprentice doctor to a famous doctor/"male midwife" and a housemaid together solve the murders of young women dying all over Edinburgh in strange circumstances. The victims give off no whiff of suspected poison and they die in agony with contorted limbs. We get a view into the world of 19th century medicine: the use [and misuse?] of ether and the discovery of chloroform to ease childbirth pain. I thank LibraryThing fo ...more
Taryn Pierson
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2018-release
After visiting Scotland this year (I know, brag brag), I was on a mission to find books set there. Edinburgh is the most atmospheric city I’ve ever been to—the fog hangs in the air, the castle looms on the hill, the closes rise steeply uphill—it’s the perfect place to set a murder mystery. This book is set in the city in 1847 and throws together two unlikely allies—Will Raven, studying to be a medical doctor, and Sarah, a housemaid with considerable medical aptitude herself. (Of course, only one ...more
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
Ambrose Perry is actually a double act, a pseudonym for Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman, and it shows slightly in The Way of all Flesh. He is a writer and she is a historian of the 1840s Edinburgh, and while they both undoubtedly bring something to the mix, there are times where this ‘debut’ novel feels somewhat uneven.

It’s the story of Will Raven, barely 20 and about to take up a prestigious role as apprentice to Dr Simpson, Scotland’s leading obstetrician. It’s 1847 and the discovery of e
Amy Bruno
Nothing pleases me more than a good Victorian mystery and I am happy to say that I had the best time these past few days while immersed in Ambrose Parry's The Way of All Flesh! Seriously, I was obsessed with this book and anyone that interrupted me while reading was subjected to the look at death :)

Will Raven (which IMO is the coolest name EVER!) is beginning his new apprenticeship to Dr. Simpson, who specializes in midwifery, when he finds a female acquaintance dead. She is a whore and she isn'
The Way of All Flesh is a highly atmospheric and thoroughly engrossing mystery full of historical medical fact and details, which are, at times, rather gruesome. If you're a fan of C.S. Harris' Sebastian St. Cyr historical mystery series, The Way of All Flesh is not to be missed.

Will Raven is a young medical student who is beginning an apprenticeship with a renowned and celebrated gynaecologist, Dr. Simpson. Before starting at his new position, Raven discovers a young woman dead, and soon after
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
This was a wonderful ride through a Victorian Edinburgh with interesting characters and an enjoyable plot.

Neither Will nor Sarah are particularly happy to assume their societal roles as they are attributed to them and they try to make the best of their respective situation without being actual rebels. It was great to watch them interact, going from a certain degree of mistrust and disdain to becoming a team and even friends.

Will especially has gone through quite the change throughout the book,
Theresa Smith
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘That was Edinburgh for you: public decorum and private sin, city of a thousand secret selves.’

The Way of All Flesh is a dark journey down into the depths of Victorian Edinburgh, back to the beginnings of surgery and obstetrics, when anaesthetic was only just in its infancy. This is a novel that traverses a grim and often macabre path, but always an historically accurate one. This is pre-caesarean days as well, and the main character is apprenticed as an obstetrician, so we are privy to some dis
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Ambrose Parry is the pen name for husband and wife Chris Brookmyre (known mostly for his crime novels) and Dr Marisa Haetzman, a consultant anaesthetist. It is the latter's interest in medical history that lead to their first collaboration, The Way of All Flesh.

Other books in the series

Raven, Fisher, and Simpson (2 books)
  • The Art of Dying
“Sarah had come to recognise a particular haughtiness common among medical men.” 0 likes
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