‘Then it became clear. There was only one option.’
The novel opens with a mystery: just where is Dr Yancey Roberts? The Head of the Department of Anatomy appears to have disappeared, and no-one knows where he’s gone.
Dr Sarah Whitley has just been hired as an Assistant Professor of Anatomy at the Medical College of Louisiana, a prestigious medical school in New Orleans. Sarah’s ecstatic: she learned from excellent professors and is looking forward to applying her knowledge in New Orleans. Her head of Department is Dr Yancey Roberts. It soon becomes clear that Dr Roberts inspires fear rather respect amongst Sarah’s colleagues, even though he’s not around much. While Sarah is keen to find out why, she’s also keen to do the best she can. Sarah, it soon becomes clear, is a workaholic and this novel is very much centred on her work life.
There’s plenty of detail about anatomical dissection in this novel. It’s all relevant to the character, and to the story, and while it does have the effect of slowing the story down at times that just kept me reading more quickly. It’s Sarah’s work in the morgue that becomes central to the mystery. Issues of ethics are raised, and the closer Sarah looks the more questions she finds.
I kept turning the pages, keen to find out what Sarah would discover and how she would deal with it. Every step seemed to involve some new information about Dr Roberts, making him even more unlikeable. What power did he have over some of his staff, and why?
And while I was wondering what would happen next, feverishly turning pages, knowing that I was getting towards the end of the story, the ending came. On one level, it’s a very satisfying ending. On another level, I hated it. I can’t tell you why I hated it without a massive spoiler, but it just did not ‘feel’ right to me. Satisfying? For sure. Appropriate? Probably.
But the real question is: would I read another book by Ms Spriggs? Definitely.