A woman doctor in 1911 is a rara avis who must fight for respect.
Dody McCleland considers herself lucky to hold a position as England’s only autopsy surgeon. It’s her other work at a free clinic for women that may get her jailed for murder. When a young woman comes to her for an abortion, already suffering from lead poisoning from the pills she took hoping to bring on a miscarriage, Dody prescribes an antidote and asks her to return. When the woman is found dead from a botched abortion, Dody is accused. Her suffragette sister suggests that she ask her friend Chief Inspector Pike (The Anatomy of Death, 2012) for help, but a proud Dody, recalling that Pike fled at the last minute from the surgery she had arranged on his bad knee, refuses. Pike, still suffering the mental and physical problems from his service in the Boer War, is in love with Dody. Although she returns his love, she is loath to marry and give up her career. Pike, now with Special Branch, is working undercover to winkle out German spies. When his mission goes south, however, he manages to get assigned to Dody’s case. The only evidence against her is some accusatory anonymous letters she suspects may have been sent by a jealous colleague at the morgue. When another woman is found dead, Pike, Dody and even her sister go all-out to discover who is manufacturing the lead pills in the hope that this discovery will lead to the abortionist.
The second in Young’s promising series features a strong heroine, a twisty mystery and the obligatory historical detail.