Friday, 7 March 2014

The Flesh Market by Richard Wright

Reviewer: JJ Marsh

What We Thought: and the dead are rising. The Cadaver Riots horrify the Old Town of Edinburgh as rotting corpses emerge from their graves, ravenous. All agree this must never happen again. The people choose violence, the police favour law and the scientists opt for investigation. But investigating requires raw material.
Enter Bill and William, aka Burke and Hare.

In a brilliant twist on true crime, this book takes a grim reality and turns it several shades darker. The key players each have plausible motivations and the reader sides with each in turn, while constantly questioning the moral drive behind their reprehensible actions. Real imaginative skill goes into creating the individual justifications and personal delusions which push these characters to take those fatal steps.

The setting is absorbing and vivid, the period fascinating and the distant echoes of this factual case are compelling in themselves, but it is the characters who bring this story to life. For a tale so concerned with death, it’s bursting with human vitality. In fact, as soon as I’d finished, I researched the real body-snatchers. 

A scary story in the original, but this angle manages to create something both macabre and human. I wouldn’t normally read anything labelled horror, so suggest we call this ‘Intelligent Grim’.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: atmospheric period horror, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, James Herbert’s The Fog, Edinburgh

Avoid if: squeamish about blood, body parts and death

Ideal accompaniments: A quality malt with a touch of peat such as Laphroaig, or go totally terroir and drink Ethanol. With steak tartare.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Horror

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