The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry – Book Review



A vivid and gripping historical crime novel set in 19th century Edinburgh,
by bestselling author Chris Brookmyre and consultant anaesthetist Dr Marisa Haetzman.

In Edinburgh, 1847. Will Raven is a medical student, apprenticing for the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson. Sarah Fisher is Simpson’s housemaid, and has all of Raven’s intelligence but none of his privileges. As bodies begin to appear across the Old Town, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld. And if either of them are to make it out alive, they will have to work together to find out who’s responsible for the gruesome deaths.

– The Way of All Flesh is the first in a series of historical crime novels. It will appeal to fans of C.J. Sansom, S.J. Parris and historical crime fiction, as well of fans of Brookmyre’s own writing.

– The Way of All Flesh contains real life characters and events including:
▪ Dr James Simpson, pioneer of chloroform
▪ The invention of anaesthesia and its early use in obstetric procedures
▪ The influence of the newly established Free Church of Scotland
▪ The work of photography pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson

– It has already been optioned by SunnyMarch for Film/TV and has sold into seven territories to date.

– Chris Brookmyre is an international bestselling and multi-award-winning author whose books have sold over one million copies. Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of 20 years’ experience, with a Master’s in the history of Medicine which formed the research for this book.

Raven and Fisher will return in The Art of Dying,
publishing in hardback 29.08.19.



Will Raven is an apprentice ‘midwife’ to Dr Simpson a kind, generous doctor with an interest in anaesthesia. Raven owes money to violent ‘loan sharks’ after borrowing to lend money to his friend,  who is then found dead. He feels this was murder, then there are further women found dead with the same contorted bodies.

Sarah is a housemaid, who also works for Dr Simpson, part time, in his surgery helping with patients and clearing up. She has a thirst for medical knowledge and reads medical books avidly but as a women in these times, is disregarded.

Sarah and Raven do not get on initially, but they begin to investigate the deaths of the women and a little romance begins.

There’s a lot of medical information given and about the new fangled use of anaesthesia in medicine and surgery in the 1840’s and it reminds you just how far medicine has advanced. Thank goodness.

Ambrose Parry,  the authors have clearly done a lot of research and while this includes a lot of details in the tale it is not confusing but just reinforces the story and gives background to medicine of the time.

This is a great, wonderfully eloquent tale of historical medical drama, romance and a murder mystery.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book  in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.



Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The couple are married and live in Scotland. Chris Brookmyre is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of over twenty novels, including Black Widow, winner of both the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this novel was based. The Way of All Flesh is the first book in the series. @ambroseparry


‘Menacing, witty and ingeniously plotted, Ambrose Parry’s debut draws you into the dark heart of nineteenth-century Edinburgh and won’t let you go until the final page’

‘Utterly compelling, this tale of Old Edinburgh is so full of characters
and startling incident that I never wanted it to end’

‘Parry’s Victorian Edinburgh comes vividly alive – and it’s a world of pain’

‘Pretty damn exceptional’

‘A dynamic new arrival in this niche category of writers. Ambrose Parry’s The Way of All Flesh leads the reader down dark alleys, through aristocratic parlours and prostitutes’ bedrooms, into secret worlds’

‘An astonishing debut. The dark and dangerous past is brought thrillingly to life. I can’t wait to read more.’​

‘The city of Burke & Hare has found a new classic murder. The Way of All Flesh is a darkly, stylish mystery underpinned by hard facts and expert research. A hugely enjoyable debut’

‘Everything you could possibly want in a historical crime fiction novel with extra thrills and chills on the side’

‘Fascinating, informative and intriguing. Old Edinburgh brought to life and death within these pages’

‘A terrific read – Victorian Edinburgh’s medical world resurrected, and brought vividly to life’

‘I adored this atmospheric, enthralling novel. Victorian Edinburgh comes thrillingly to life’

‘A thoroughly entertaining tale of murder and misadventure in 1840s Edinburgh.’
Sunday Times

‘An enjoyable, dark-edged romp through Victorian Edinburgh . . . The Way of All Flesh is a treat. The historical setting is fascinating, and all of Brookmyre’s wit and storytelling verve are evident in this tale of scalpels and secrets.’
The Times

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