The Way of All Flesh Blog tour

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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 is to make it out alive, they will have to work together to find out who’s responsible for the gruesome deaths.

If you saw my #SpringReads Column this month, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, especially one that’s set in our capital city, Edinburgh. I absolutely love books that have real historical characters and events woven through them and often go off on a mammoth internet exploration session after finishing them as I get so caught up in the story. The Way of All Flesh was right up my street and I have been in my absolute element immersing myself in Will Raven’s adventures this month since Anne Cater invited me onto the Blog Tour.

This is the ‘debut’  novel by Ambrose Parry,  I say ‘debut’ – but Parry is actually a ‘nom-de-plume’ for this collaboration between husband and wife team Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman – and what a winning combination this has turned out to be. This is a fantastic read with every element of it absolutely pitch-perfect. I could not tear myself away from its twists and turns and have been recommending it to everyone since the moment I finished it.

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The Way of All Flesh is a real departure from classic Brookmyre: it’s a period murder mystery set in the murky world of Victorian Edinburgh and it brings our narrow closes and cobbled streets vividly to life as it plunges us into the sights and sounds of this bustling and dynamic city.  Haetzman brings the medical history expertly to life, being a consultant anaesthetist, and I was fascinated to read that she’s recently completed an MA in The History of Medicine which makes sense as her impeccable research has ensured that you definitely feel like you are time-travelling into Will & Sarah’s world and experiencing events alongside them.

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I was actually born in the Edinburgh hospital named after one of the main characters in this novel –  Dr James Simpson – who became so famous as he pioneered the use of chloroform. It was amazing to read a fictional account of his life and work and ‘meet’ this medical legend in a wholly different way.  Queen Victoria actually endorsed his practices and it was really interesting to see him as a real person, rather than just a name on a statue. Simpson really comes to life on the page, with an extremely modern ‘take’ on equality and health provision which made me determined to read further about the real man and find out more about his achievements.

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Through Simpson, we are introduced to young Will Raven – his medical apprentice whose mysterious past makes for intriguing reading and Sarah Fisher – whose determination to rise above her lowly station of housemaid makes you root for her from the start.  These two ‘outsiders’ get off to a rocky start together and I loved this initial lead-up as I felt that their inherent mistrust of each other made their eventual partnership all the more enjoyable to read. Once they settle their differences, they are hell-bent on eliminating a rogue practitioner – whose illicit operations are putting desperate young women’s lives in danger and their combined talents are absolutely formidable!

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This is one of my reads of the year so far – you cannot fail to be drawn into this fully-realised historical world. If you adored The House on Half Moon Street, you’ll bloody love this book and I cannot wait for the follow-up, The Art of Dying which will be out later this year Raven and Fisher are my new favourite fictional duo and if you haven’t met them yet, what are you waiting for?

The Way of All Flesh from Canongate is available now from Waterstones as its Thriller of the Month – so waste no time and go out and grab yourself a copy as quickly as you can.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, take a look at what these other fantastic fellow bloggers think

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Writers On The Shelf

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.

Follow @ambroseparry on Twitter,

 

 

Green Gold – The Epic True Story of Victorian Plant Hunter John Jeffrey

In 1850, young Scottish plant hunter John Jeffrey was despatched by an elite group of Victorian subscribers to seek highly prized exotic trees in North America. An early letter home told of a 1,200-mile transcontinental journey by small boat and on foot. 

Later, tantalising collections of seeds and plants arrived from British Columbia, Oregon and California, yet early promise soon withered. Four years after setting out, John Jeffrey, and his journals, disappeared without a trace. 

Was he lost to love, violence or the Gold Rush? Green Gold combines meticulous research with the fictional narrative of Jeffrey’s lost journals, revealing an extraordinary adventure.

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Anyone who reads my blog occasionally knows that I have a deep love of non-fiction and adore being introduced to stories from the past that I haven’t heard of before.  We Scots do have a bit of a tradition of being intrepid explorers and our Botanic Gardens in both Edinburgh and Glasgow bear witness to the many brave travellers who sailed off to distant lands to seek unknown species of trees and rare plants. I was absolutely delighted when Anne Cater wrote to me to ask if I’d like to be on the blog tour for Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery – and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it every bit as much as I was anticipating.

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This book tells the epic story of  Victorian plant hunter John Jeffrey told through a re-imagining of his incredible adventure sailing from Scotland to North America in the 19th century in search of the unknown, bankrolled by a group of wealthy plant collectors. John’s adventure begins as he leaves Scotland bound for the rocky shores of Canada and takes him as far away as the legendary land of California with all its rich unknown vegetation and things that chilly fellow Scots can only have imagined.

He adventures across a wide range of terrains – from the frozen shores in Canada to the lush riches awaiting him on the west coast where oranges and fruits grew in abundance.  John reports back to his sponsors regularly – sending them rare specimens of plants and wildlife and expanding our view of the known world at a time where everything was changing. Because I am a huge fan of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens, I was so excited to read about the origins of so many of its specimens that I’ve actually walked past and know that through reading John Jeffrey’s account I could connect with its history in a very real way.

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What I loved about the book was the feeling of getting to know John the man, through being able to turn the pages of his journals and hear his inner thoughts and feelings as his journey wound on. As is quite common for Scottish adventurers, things never really ‘panned out’ the way that John expected them to when he boldly set sail  – his detailed reports and updates never actually transpired and his sponsors rapidly became disenchanted with their intrepid adventurer John Jeffrey. Before they could complain to him, however, all traces of John and his expedition vanished and no more was heard from him again.

Although there are several theories which extrapolate about what might have happened to John Jeffrey, we still do not have the answers t this day –  was John a victim of sabotage, did he disappear into the wilderness to lead a quiet life, did he find the love of his life or perhaps meet with misadventure or betrayal – unfortunately we will never really know…

I absolutely loved this intriguing and original book that transports you back in time on an epic adventure with a long-forgotten character from history. You do not have to be a horticulturalist to get drawn into John’s story and you will be amazed at some of the adventures that this man encountered in search of his green-gold treasures.

I love doing my research after finishing a book I’ve enjoyed and if you are intrigued by John’s story, you could find out more here. You will be able to see real extracts from his papers and read all about the man himself as well as get details of an exhibition there about John’s life and adventures that I’m already planning on taking Mr OnTheShelf to visit as he is a history teacher

If you are intrigued by my research about John and would like to read more about his epic adventures then follow the blog and definitely buy yourself a copy of this fascinating read.

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Buy yourself a copy here

 

Writer On The Shelf

Gabriel Hemery Author Picture

Gabriel Hemery is a tree hunter, forest scientist and author. While researching for his doctorate, he led an expedition to the forests of Kyrgyzstan, collecting walnut seeds.
He has planted tens of thousands of trees in plantations and forestry trials across Britain. After leading the development of the Botanical Society of the British Isles, Gabriel returned to forestry and played a lead role in successfully halting the government’s proposed disposal of England’s public forests.
In 2009, he co-founded an environmental charity, the Sylva Foundation. His first book The New Sylva was published to wide acclaim in 2014.
He writes a popular tree blog: www.gabrielhemery.com.

 

 

 

We All Fall Down

We All Fall Down Blog Tour Poster

**THIS IS A GOVERNMENT ALERT**IF YOU EXHIBIT SYMPTOMS,  STAY IN YOUR HOMES**PLEASE REMAIN CALM AND DO NOT ATTEMPT THE RESCUE OF OTHERS**THIS IS A GOVERNMENT ALERT**IF YOU EXHIBIT SYMPTOMS,  STAY IN YOUR HOMES**PLEASE REMAIN CALM AND DO NOT ATTEMPT THE RESCUE OF OTHERS**THIS IS A GOVERNMENT ALERT**

IT STARTS WITH ONE PATIENT
A woman is dying in an Italian hospital, coughing up blood, convulsing and barely conscious.
BEFORE IT SPREADS TO THE TOWN 
Dr Alana Vaughn, an expert from NATO, confirms everyone’s worst fears: the woman has the highly infectious disease that swept through Europe eight hundred years ago. The Black Death.
AND TAKES THE CITY
The sickness is spreading so quickly that soon the outbreak becomes a global pandemic. Markets crash and governments fall as quickly as the citizens they govern.
THEN THE COUNTRY
As panic takes hold and the death toll climbs, the consequences become horrifically clear – Alana must discover a way to stop the disease or it will be the end of us all.
THEN THE WORLD – AND WE ALL FALL DOWN

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At the height of an epidemic, what kind of person will you become? Think Contagion meets The Da Vinci Code in the next heart-stopping thriller from the internationally bestselling author Daniel Kalla.

As soon as I discovered that the Black Death was involved here –  – I was definitely keen to embark on We All Fall Down as it’s one of the periods of History that really intrigues me.   I was delighted to be invited on the blog tour for this book by Anne Cater as I’m always happy to trust her judgement about my next read. It sounded really fascinating and after finishing it the first thing I did was go in search of everything  I could find about this legendary outbreak.

If you like darkness, intrigue and an unsettling read then you’ve come to the right place…

 

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I loved Alana Vaughn’s character – she’s a really driven and determined woman and  the writing here really makes you feel like you are being allowed into her world. Her determination to get to the bottom of  what exactly is going on and her intrepid adventures enabling her to do so are described in such a way as to make the story feel very exciting and make us root for her as she navigates some pretty macabre goings-on.

I love that this book defies being pigeonholed into merely one genre – it manages to be a book that people who don’t love ‘straight’ thriller novels would also love at the same time. This is largely down to Daniel Kalla’s skill in characterisation and ability to really keep you on the edge of your seat as things get dark and mysterious very quickly.

This is definitely a mystery to get your teeth into. The religious element brought something very unique to this mystery and the fact that it’s clearly been so well-researched gave this a really authentic and credible air. The taut and narrow timeline certainly adds to the tension as Alana battles to get to the bottom of these terrifying and disturbing events that are unfolding against clear opposition from Byron Menke – possibly one of THE most detestable characters I’ve encountered in fiction this year.

The darkness and links to the historical events are nicely balanced with contemporary detail and the variety of light and shade was something else about the novel that really worked for me.

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This book drew me in and kept me there. It was a satisfying blend of thriller, history and mystery with a really original voice that I really fell for.  It was definitely one of those books that you pick up and then lift your eyes from to find out that a good couple of hours have passed and you’re still reading.

Daniel Kalla’s skilful plate spinning means that We All Fall Down  gallops along at a breakneck pace where you’ll scarcely be able to pause for breath-  put it this way, you will definitely not be able to put it down until you find out the truth about what Byron and Alana have been drawn into and what dark forces may be responsible.

If you are easily disturbed then this might not be the book for you – it certainly does not shy away from the horrors of an outbreak and what its impact might be and you might need to sleep with the light on if you don’t fancy finding out details about what really went on in 14th century Genoa.

 

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If you haven’t read this intriguing mix of ‘ Contagion meets The Da Vinci Code’  you should begin straight away and I guarantee that you’ll be drawn in as fast as I was and race through it. Only thing is, you might need a stiff (medicinal, obviously) gin at your side to accompany you!

 

Buy yourself a copy here

 

Writer On The Shelf

Daniel Kall Author Picture

 

Daniel Kalla is the internationally bestselling author of PandemicResistanceRage TherapyBlood LiesCold Plague, and Of Flesh and Blood.
 His books have been translated into eleven languages, and two novels have been optioned for film.
Kalla practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Visit Daniel at DanielKalla.com or follow him on Twitter @DanielKalla.