In 19th-century Scotland, an aspiring doctor turns sleuth to save her fiance from a false charge of murder.
Edinburgh, 1893. As if medical school isn’t hard enough, dedicated student Sarah Gilchrist must face the daily misogyny of both fellow students and instructors. Sarah’s also saddled with Miles Greene, a deadly dull fiance she’s anxious to bid farewell. An interminable dinner with his family is interrupted by a bloodcurdling scream, then an announcement that the corpse of maid Clara Wilson, her head bashed in, has been found on the street just outside the house. The screams summon the police, who begin an investigation. To the family’s dismay and Sarah’s delight, her medical school professor, Dr. Gregory Merchiston, asks her to help with the autopsy. The arrival of Sarah’s prickly, high-maintenance mother makes a tense situation even more awkward. When Miles’ father, blustery Col. Greene, unexpectedly dies, Miles becomes the head of the family, a position for which he seems clearly unequipped. The surprising news that the colonel was poisoned sends the entire household into an uproar. The surprise is redoubled when Miles is arrested for his father’s murder. Even as she struggles to break off her engagement to him, Sarah ironically feels compelled to ferret out the killer and save his life.
Welsh depicts Victorian Edinburgh and 19th-century medicine with impressive authority. If the mystery often takes a back seat to Sarah’s personal story—there’s even an unforeseen marriage proposal—that mix should bind the target audience even closer to the determined heroine (The Wages of Sin, 2017).