cover image A Corruption of Blood

A Corruption of Blood

Ambrose Parry. Canongate, $26 (416p) ISBN 978-1-78689-985-9

Parry (the pen name of husband-and-wife writing team Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman) makes excellent use of Haetzman’s experience as an anesthetist and a medical historian in his stellar third whodunit set in 19th-century Edinburgh (after 2019’s The Art of Dying). When wealthy and influential Sir Ainsley Douglas dies of arsenic poisoning in 1850, Gideon, Douglas’s son, who recently fought with his father, is charged with patricide. Physician Will Raven gives in to his fiancée’s entreaties that he work to exonerate her friend Gideon, despite regarding the suspect, whom he knew in medical school, as “arrogant and detestable.” Raven finds Gideon’s argument for his innocence—that he’d never have used a poison so easily detectable—compelling but faces an uphill battle in getting the police to agree. Meanwhile, Will’s colleague, Sarah Fisher, a former servant aspiring to become a physician, searches for a missing baby on behalf of its mother. The integration of real history—Douglas’s advocacy of the arrest of prostitutes to contain the spread of STDs is based on real legislation—enhances a page-turning plot. Imogen Robertson fans will be delighted. Agent: Sophie Scard, United Agents (U.K.). (Oct.)