An old mystery is crossed with a modern story in the latest from Gerritsen (The Mephisto Club, 2006, etc.).
Julia Hamill, newly divorced and still smarting, purchases an old house outside Boston. Determined to dig a garden, she instead finds the bones of a long-dead woman—the apparent victim of murder—which starts her on a journey to ferret out the story behind her death. Julia connects with Henry, a no-nonsense 89-year-old with boxes of documents that once belonged to the now-deceased previous owner of Julia's home. The two discover a mystery dating back to the 1830s. At the heart of it is a baby named Meggie, born to the beautiful but doomed Irish chambermaid, Aurnia. Married to a man who cares nothing for her, Aurnia lays dying in a maternity ward with her sister, Rose, at her side. Rose, a spirited 17-year-old, takes Meggie to protect her from Aurnia's husband, but soon finds herself the target of a bizarre manhunt. Someone is after the child—and Rose, as well, because she witnessed a horrifying murder. The body count piles up as Rose struggles to remain free of those who would take Meggie from her. Meanwhile, a young medical student becomes the chief suspect of the West End Reaper killings when he stumbles onto another terrible homicide. Although he fights the prospect, eventually he and Rose join forces to solve the murders and protect the baby at the heart of the mysterious deaths.
Readers with delicate stomachs may find Gerritsen’s graphic descriptions of corpse dissection hard to take, but the story, which digs up a dark Boston of times long past, entices readers to keep turning pages long after their bedtimes.