Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tess Gerritsen - The Bone Garden

Present day: Julia Hamill has made a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural
Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil-human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner Maura Isles, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder. But whoever this nameless woman was, and whatever befell her, is knowledge lost to another time. . . .
Boston, 1830: In order to pay for his education, Norris Marshall, a talented but penniless student at Boston Medical College, has joined the ranks of local "resurrectionists"-those who plunder graveyards and harvest the dead for sale on the black market. Yet even this ghoulish commerce pales beside the shocking murder of a nurse found mutilated on the university hospital grounds. And when a distinguished doctor meets the same grisly fate, Norris finds that trafficking in the illicit cadaver trade has made him a prime suspect. To prove his innocence, Norris must track down the only witness to have glimpsed the killer: Rose Connolly, a beautiful seamstress from the Boston slums who fears she may be the next victim.

Comment: This was one of the Christmas gifts I was offered last month. A friend of mine knows I'm a huge fan of this author and her choice was justified with the notion this author never disappoints. I certainly have loved all the books I've read by her so far, meaning this one was also quite welcome and that is why I decided for it to be the first of the year.

This book tells two stories, one in the present day and another in the 19th century when medical procedures weren't as developed as one might think.
The two stories connect when in the present day, Julia Hamil finds bones in her garden and throughout the story we know it must be from someone living there at the time the other plot takes place, but who was murdered there like the bones tell the forensic team?

I liked this book. My taste for this author's work wasn't lost this time but honestly I didn't expect it to. Still, I'm used to stories focused on current medical practices and forensics and it was quite the challenge to read the story line from the past and not be a bit exasperated by way things were done now that we know how things should be done in the correct way. I guess the slow pace of both story lines added to this feeling as well, after all, the two time stories are intercalated allowing the reader to follow the two stories more or less at the same pace.

The story form the past is dedicated to childbirth ideas and how the procedure was done in the 1800s. Things didn't follow the hygiene procedures of nowadays and the story features the start of that in those days. There's also a mystery and crime and poverty. All these things always a bit connected to the medical practice of childbirth and how to do a surgery. One thing I aways like about the author is how we can learn something and in this case the little lessons on 19th century medical practices on how to those things are quite the eye opener, amazing how far medicine was but now things are miles and miles away from those times and who knows what might happen in out own future's time, how will medicine evolute even more?
Anyway, the things happening in the past after a while start pointing out to quite the domestic side and when that part of the book reaches the end I couldn't help but feeling sad over how it ended up. I mean, nothing bad but one detail was so sad I couldn't help but feel sad over it.

Interestingly, in the present we learn many of these things from notes and letters the characters from the past wrote, or should I say, one of them did. This is how we learn of the destiny of the characters of the past. It was quite interesting to see the action in the parts dedicated to the past and also in the letters left until the present.
The present had a more sedate story, more quite and fast paced and still there's a little detail that made me think because it's not something the author usually does, an element I wasn't used to see in her pragmatic novels. But I guess it must have been the author's trick to balance the end from the the end all ends well, so...balance.

I thin in the end this story was much more emotional than what I expected and in a way it touched situations the author doesn't always focus on. But I was still satisfied by the story lines and the mystery and the villain's identity and all the medical details included. The overall end was bittersweet for me but one medical lesson, very simple indeed, was quite the final deserved mention. Sometimes the simpler things can be the most important ones and this novel certainly focused on that.
Grade: 7/10

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