The Wages of Sin

Written by Kaite Welsh
Review by Mike Ashworth

1892. Sarah Gilchrist is forced by her family to move from London to live with relatives in Edinburgh to avoid a scandal. Determined to become a doctor, she enrols in the first intake of female medical students at Edinburgh University, despite the misgivings of her family who are determined to see her married, and respectable. When Sarah discovers the battered corpse of one of her own patients—a prostitute—in the university dissecting room, she suspects murder. When no one will listen, she finds herself drawn into the murky Edinburgh underworld.

With a strong plot and sharply drawn characters, the author effectively portrays the attitudes and prejudices of Victorians towards women and their role in society along with a dark tale of murder. Sarah Gilchrist is a strong, determined and yet vulnerable woman, with a weakness for laudanum. With a nod to Conan Doyle, and a satisfying and surprising conclusion, this is a readable and welcome addition to the genre.