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[Review] 'The Blood' by ES Thomson

These days, the Thames is a relatively clean, if somewhat murky and muddy, river slowly meandering towards the North Sea. In the early Victorian Era, the Thames was an open sewer, stinking and polluted. Bodies, both animal and human, were regularly dumped in its waters. The London fog was at times so think that it invited people to whisper and candle light wasn't able to penetrate the darkness.

Moored on the Thames was 'The Blood', a hospital ship avant la lettre. Like the river itself, 'The Blood' is a place for dying, not for healing.

'The Blood' is the third adventure of the intrepid couple, Jem Flockhart, apothecary, and Will Quartermain, architect. They are summoned to 'The Blood' by an old friend, John Aberlady. But, just as they arrive, Aberlady jumps to his death, driven by fear and poison. Why ask for help and then die at that precise moment?

Corpses start to turn up at an alarming rate. The deaths seem somehow related, but it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to finally discover the solution.

Eliane Thomson gives us a real vivid sense of what life on the waterfront of the Thames was in those days. The closer one lived to the river, the cheaper the rates of 'services rendered' would become. Living on the divide of water and land was living on the edge. The Victorian Era, with all its prejudices of women in medical professions, was not a glamourous one. It was a time of invention and progress, but not many benefited from these. Some even fell victim to them.

I wish I could somehow convey the sense of urgency that slithers though the novel. 'The Blood' is a mystery you need to read.

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