cover image The Lazarus Curse: A Dr. Thomas Silkstone Mystery

The Lazarus Curse: A Dr. Thomas Silkstone Mystery

Tessa Harris. Kensington, $15 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7582-9337-4

Conflicting attitudes toward slavery in Georgian England propel Harris’s stellar fourth historical starring American anatomist Thomas Silkstone (after 2013’s The Devil’s Breath). In 1783, the president of the Royal Society, Joseph Banks, honors Silkstone by inviting him to catalogue the flora and fauna gathered on a recent expedition to the West Indies. Two of the three expedition’s leaders died before their ship made the return voyage to England. The disappearance of the third leader, botanical artist Matthew Bartlett, and a notebook filled with essential details about the voyage’s discoveries further complicate the assignment. As Silkstone looks into Bartlett’s fate despite Banks’s opposition, he aids a gravely wounded slave, which draws him into the national debate on human freedom and dignity. Certain aspects of the plot resemble the storyline of Lloyd Shepherd’s The Poisoned Island, but they are sufficiently different to distinguish it, and the subplot neatly sets up the next book. Harris’s prose and characterizations have only become more assured. Agent: Melissa Jeglinski, Knight Agency. (Aug.)