The Devil’s Breath

Written by Tessa Harris
Review by Rebecca Henderson Palmer

Dr. Thomas Silkstone, a Philadelphia-born anatomist, finds himself in Oxfordshire, England to help his amour search for her long-lost son. Few but Thomas notice the subtle clues of danger approaching: an absence of birds, rats seeking higher ground, unusually high barometer readings, and a severe heat wave. The “Great Fogg of 1783” is advancing from the north, a natural disaster of epic proportions. The toxic mist destroys livestock, decimates crops, and poisons the townsfolk. Amidst this backdrop, Thomas and Lydia hurry to locate her son before other interested parties reach him first. Meanwhile, panic grips the village and four people are found murdered. Thomas must do what he can to uncover the killer and tend the ill while the lethal cloud persists.

The author of two other Dr. Silkstone mysteries, Harris expertly weaves her tale with authentic medical and scientific details and has her characters interact with historically accurate events, locations, and individuals, all of which make the story even more absorbing. She also includes a glossary and author’s note, more fully explaining the historical and medical background of her narrative, but the descriptions of the “Great Fogg” and its repercussions alone make this well worth the read.