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Lancashire Life reader book review - A Dark Anatomy

PUBLISHED: 16:06 20 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:25 20 February 2013

Lancashire Life reader book review - A Dark Anatomy

Lancashire Life reader book review - A Dark Anatomy

Lancashire Life reader Paula Hardman reviews A Dark Anatomy by Robin Blake

Lancashire Life reader Paula Hardman reviews A Dark Anatomy by Robin Blake


Preston 1740s: sex, death, power, money, art and medicine, witchcraft and religion... How do you solve a murder in the era before detectives, DNA and finger printing? Well... You better ask writer Robin Blake.

A Dark Anatomy is a murder mystery novel set in 1740s Preston. Titus Cragg is the towns Lawyer and Coroner and Lucas Fidelis is the local Doctor. When the Squires wife is found murdered in strange circumstances the two good friends must join forces to piece the puzzle together. It does not help that, after the first death, bodies just seem to drop like flies.

As someone whos first language is not English I usually find period drama very hard to read. The formality of the language and the different customs tend to be my downfall, however, that was not the case in A Dark Anatomy. Blakes prose is fluid, smooth, engrossing and very easy to read. He has managed to keep the formality of the era without making it sound like another language and he ever so slightly bent some aspects of custom to make it a little easier to connect to.

Blake also did a great job at describing the difference in between the classes simply by the way they speak. There are no long winded descriptions here, although we know the differences in between poor, working and rich were vast, but by the way the characters talk you know exactly the place they occupied in society.

The story starts with a murder and from page one you are interested in how this came to be, but I have to admit that after a few pages it felt a little like Cragg seemed to wonder around Preston not really achieving much in his investigation as much as giving you a tour. At first, that made me lose interest slightly, but then I realised that what Blake was doing was to set the scene for future novels as A Dark Anatomy is the first of a trilogy. Not only that, but in the era before computers, high tech analysis, DNA and finger printing murder investigations were not as straight forward. It is really amazing that any crime was solved at all! After the second death, however, everything seems to unfold swiftly.

The ending is very interesting and the solution something you did not quite see coming. Do not get me wrong, I had my theories all along but while they were fairly close, they were still off target.

I can most definitely see this becoming a TV series and I think it would make a wonderful one. If you like history and period drama, I am sure you will love this book. I am very interested in what happens next. Will this story evolve? Will we ever find out who is the father of the young ladies baby or will the second book bring a completely different mystery to our plates? I guess we will all have to wait and see.


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