Sunday, May 06, 2018

No Cure for the Dead by Christine Trent

Mysteries featuring historical figures turned amateur sleuths are as popular as ever. Now, Florence Nightingale is forced to investigate the death of a nurse in Christine Trent's historical mystery, No Cure for the Dead. Trent, who writes the Lady of Ashes series featuring a female undertaker at this same period of time, skillfully blends actual people with fictional characters.

With the support of her best friend and her father, and few others, Florence Nightingale becomes the superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness in 1853. She's horrified at the conditions at the hospital, and appalled at the lack of knowledge and the bearings of the women who are nurses there. She has plans for reform and education, but all those plans have to go on the back burner when she finds one of those nurses hanging in the library. Although the police say it was a suicide, Florence doesn't accept that verdict. Knowing her job and all of her hopes for the future are contingent on finding the truth, Florence turns amateur sleuth.

Because she's only been in her position for a week, Nightingale has little knowledge of her staff. She starts questioning them, and uncovers secrets. Everyone has them, even some of the committee members who hired her. But, who has she endangered by her questions? When she's pushed down the stairs, a young errand boy has an "accident", and another death occurs, Florence knows someone is worried. But, will she have time to find a murderer before she loses her job?

Those who enjoy historical mysteries will find the background and rich details fascinating. Trent's Author's Notes reveal the facts about the actual figures in the book, including Florence Nightingale herself. And, there is a foreshadowing of the future, with talk of war with Russian and Nightingale's concern for the medical conditions on the battlefields. This story, told by Nightingale, presents the background of her life, how she arrived at her position as superintendent of the hospital. It's those details, and the sobering facts about the hospital conditions that provide a realistic background for the mystery.

No Cure for the Dead introduces an intelligent amateur sleuth, one perfectly capable of analyzing the people and facts in front of her.

Christine Trent's website is

No Cure for the Dead by Christine Trent. Crooked Lane Books, 2018. ISBN 9781683315445 (hardcover), 336p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.


Kay said...

So glad to see your review of this book, Lesa! I was able to meet Christine at Malice Domestic last weekend. And I won her auction offering, which included a signed copy of this book as well as a lot of other things. Looking forward to reading it and also passing along a signed copy to my daughter for this week's 'Nurse's Week'. Christine had shared that her mother was a nurse and she was very happy the book was coming out during 'Nurse's Week'. We bonded over nurse relatives. :-)

I'm working on my posts about Malice and will have them live next week, May 14-18, if any of your commenters would like to stop by. I had a wonderful time at the conference.

SandyG265 said...

I’ll have to see if my library gets this in.

Lesa said...

Nurse's Week, Kay! The perfect tie to debut this book. I'm going to be gone most of next week, but I'll look forward to catching up with your posts.

Lesa said...

I hope so, Sandy.

Glen Davis said...

I remember seeing a lot of Nurse novels in used book stores a few years ago. They seem to be coming somewhat back into vogue in the collector's market.

This looks like it may be interesting.

Lesa said...

Isn't it interesting, Glen, how characters and genres go in and out of fashion?