For fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd, Murder by Degrees is a historical mystery set in 19th-century Philadelphia, following a pioneering woman doctor as she investigates the disappearance of a young patient who is presumed dead.
Philadelphia, 1875: It is the start of term at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Dr. Lydia Weston, professor and anatomist, is immersed in teaching her students in the lecture hall and hospital. When the body of a patient, Anna Ward, is dredged out of the Schuylkill River, the young chambermaid’s death is deemed a suicide. But Lydia is suspicious and she is soon brought into the police investigation.
Aided by a diary filled with cryptic passages of poetry, Lydia discovers more about the young woman she thought she knew. Through her skill at the autopsy table and her clinical acumen, Lydia draws nearer the truth. Soon a terrible secret, long hidden, will be revealed. But Lydia must act quickly, before she becomes the next target of those who wished to silence Anna.
A female physician becomes an amateur sleuth in internist Mukerji's impressive debut. In 1875 Philadelphia, Dr. Lydia Weston teaches at the Woman's Medical College and sees patients at a low-cost clinic she helped found to serve the city's working class. One of her patients is Anna Ward, a chambermaid in the home of wealthy couple Edward and Beatrice Curtis. During an appointment with Lydia, Anna is visibly troubled by something she won't explain; she then misses her next appointment and seems to vanish entirely. Soon after the police are notified of Anna's disappearance, they find a young woman's body in the Schuylkill River. Though the corpse is too bloated to identify, Anna's journal is found nearby. Lydia helps her mentor, police consultant Dr. Harlan Stanley, perform the autopsy, which identifies blunt force trauma as the cause of death. Given her intimate knowledge of Anna's life, the detectives assigned to the case let Lydia assist in the investigation. She learns that Anna was involved in "a love affair gone awry," and that both the Curtises and their servants had reasons to harm her. Things take a more complicated turn, however, when Lydia realizes that the body she and her cohorts have recovered may not be Anna's after all. Mukerji's taut plotting and vivid depiction of the era's medical practices and social customs will leave readers eager for a second installment.
Hits all the right marks. Unputdownable!
Intriguing and informative. This author hits all the marks of my favorites: history, mystery, suspense, medicine, and strong women. May she continuing in her outstanding literary endeavors!