The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
Finished: July 2, 2008
First Published: 2007
Reason for Reading: I've been reading the author's books and this is the last one on my list. Medical Mystery Challenge.
March 20, 1888
I thank you for your kind condolences, so sincerely offered, for the loss of my darling Amelia.
Comments: A woman in present day Boston finds old bones buried in her backyard. She becomes intrigued by finding out who this mysterious woman was and meets an old man who is the family historian of the house she now lives in. The present days scenes are interspersed throughout the book with the main focus being on the retelling of the mysterious death of the woman from the past. Taking place in the 1830s, a group of medical students is working on the post maternity ward, where childbirth fever kills the majority of patients. One doctor, Norris Marshall, becomes enamoured of a young girl who stays by her sister's side. Once her sister dies a series of murders start to take place. These are mutilations of nurses, then a doctor, and the killings just do not stop. Police are certain the killer must be a surgeon and one policeman in particular turns to Norris as his suspect. With the help of the people he thinks he can trust Norris must make the law believe he is innocent of the crimes.
Oliver Wendell Holmes and medicine of the early 1800s take the forefront in this mystery which was a page-turner from page one. I love this time period and I love historical medicine so it is no surprise I loved this book. I found Gerritsen's depiction to be well-researched and accurate (at least, to my knowledge). This is Tess Gerritsen's first stand-alone since she started her popular Dr. Maura Isles series. Though Dr. Isles does make a cameo appearance near the beginning of the story. There is always some trepidation when reading a stand-alone by a favourite series author but there is no reason for concern here. The characters are well developed and the plot is exciting and has a shocking conclusion. Even though I love the Dr. Isles series, I have to say I enjoyed this book the most of any other I've read by Ms. Gerritsen.