Published by Atria on Feb 17, 2015
Genres: Historical fiction, Mystery, New Adult
Format: eARC from Netgalley
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
From the New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Boy in the Suitcase, a gripping historical thriller and poignant coming-of-age story set in nineteenth-century France.
Madeleine Karno is an ambitious young woman eager to shatter the confines of her provincial French town. Driven and strong headed, Madeleine is set apart by her unusual occupation: assisting her father, Dr. Albert Karno, in his job as a forensic doctor.
The year is 1894, and a young girl is found dead on the snowy streets of Varbourg. Dr. Karno is called in to determine the cause of her death, but before he can examine the body, the girl's family forbids the autopsy from taking place. The only anomaly he manages to find is in the form of a mite in her nostril. Shortly after, several other dead bodies are discovered throughout the city, and Madeleine, her father, and the city commissioner must use the new science of forensic evidence to solve the mysterious cases before they all become the next victims of a deadly disease - or of a heinous murderer.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This was an engrossing, very Gothic feeling story. It started as a straight forward historical based murder mystery, and ventured into magical realism, and almost paranormal. Looking back, it’s easy to see the directions the story took, but while reading, I couldn’t guess what would happen next, and honestly, I was too captivated to stop to speculate.
Madeleine was a delightfully intelligent young woman who knew what she wanted to do with her life, and it didn’t include being the stereotypical woman of her time. She was smart enough to realize that she couldn’t be straightforward with her interests and intentions, and was crafty enough to know how to manipulate her father to get her own way while not irritating anyone at the same time. The end result was a likable protagonist who worked her surroundings to reach the best possible compromises for everyone. It was quite remarkable to witness.
The murder mystery plotline was very intriguing and almost impossible to guess. There were so many twists and turns, and while there were a few questions left unanswered, I found the ending satisfying, even if it wasn’t absolutely complete.
Overall, this was a story that was quite worth reading. I loved Madeleine’s character and the way her brain worked. It was interesting to take a step into her time and see how crime solving occurred then. I would love to see her solve more crimes in more books.
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