Sunday, May 06, 2018
No Cure for the Dead by Christine Trent
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 www.christinetrent.com
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.