The Anatomy of Death
Doctor Dody McCleland returns to her London home from Edinburgh, having completed a course in autopsy surgery. Dody finds her sister Florence heavily involved in the women’s suffrage movement under the leadership of WSPU founder Emmeline Parkhurst. A WSPU march turns into a violent riot when London police and suspicious thugs abuse and attack the women. Put forward by her famous instructor Doctor Spilsbury, Dody is summoned as an alternate coroner to determine the cause of death for three women killed during the march.
Dody must recuse herself from examination of one of the victims, Lady Catherine Cartwright, a friend of her sister and member of Florence’s particular Bloomsbury suffrage group. Her involvement in the case continues, however, for she has met and impressed the London detective assigned, Chief Inspector Pike. The Anatomy of Death is an involving story full of complex and sympathetic characters. Both Florence and Pike are haunted by prior traumas; Florence was force-fed while on hunger strike in prison, and Pike by war experiences and injury. Set during the fight for the women’s right to vote of the early 20th century, The Anatomy of Death is a well-paced mystery. An interesting author’s note explains the facts and real personages behind the story, when the “Police did behave brutally, and three women were killed.”