Review: The Anatomy of Death (Dr Dody McCleland #1) by Felicity Young

This book caught my eye right after Christmas. I was coming off of a historical mysteries binge and I was eager for another new heroine. I was so excited to read this one but I had to get through a couple of other books on my review calendar before I indulged.

Then the urge disappeared and I didn’t pick it up again for a couple of months. I was finally ready for something new and was eager to get to know Dr Dody McCleland. Not only is this book based in the Edwardian era (my favorite) but Dody is also a medical examiner and I thought that would be an interesting angle for the series.

At the turn of the twentieth century, London’s political climate is in turmoil, as women fight for the right to vote. Dody McCleland has her own battles to fight. As England’s first female autopsy surgeon, not only must she prove herself, she must prove that murder treats everyone equally…

After a heated women’s rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered. When she examines the body, Dody McCleland is shocked to realize that the victim was a friend of her sister–fueling her determination to uncover the cause of the protestor’s suspicious death.

For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living–especially Chief Detective Inspector Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone–including Dody. Determined to earn Pike’s trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets. But if she’s not careful, she may end up on her own examination table (summary from Goodreads).

Something about this book just didn’t live up to my expectation. It started off so strong. I was intrigued by Dody and her profession. I thought that the author did a decent job with her historical research and it added a lot of interest to the plot, but I don’t think she capitalized on it as much as she could have. Dody had grit and pluck, so did her profession, but in this book we don’t really get to see much of her profession nor did Dody carry that pluck through to the end. In the beginning she started off way more fierce than she did later in the book which I found disappointing.

I also felt that the suffragette movement took up way too much of the narrative. I am not overly interested in the suffragette movement, but I was willing to wade through some of the propaganda. However it just consumed the narrative in my opinion. I never warmed up to Florence, she was a little too extreme for me and I had a hard time relating or feeling sorry for her.

Pike was kind of bland for me. I don’t know that I ever bought into the ‘feelings’ that her and Dody supposedly had. I felt let down because their romance could have added a lot to this book but I didn’t feel like the author went all in for it. She hinted but nothing ever seemed to fully develop.

But what I think bothered me the absolute most about this book was Dody and Pike never seemed to actually be working on a case. There was never any exchange of clues really. There was some consultations but nothing close to sharing info or even discovering new info. Then all of a sudden they were solving the case….on a chance discovery. I prefer my mysteries to be more about solving the crime rather than happenstance.

So why did I keep reading you ask? I kept hoping that things would fall into place more and then by the time I realized that they weren’t, I was so far in that I felt like I was at least committed to reading the rest of the book. Was it a had book? No. It had a promising premise but was poorly executed. Others might feel differently. Would I continue the series? Probably not. I wanted to love this one so much. It had all the elements that I was expecting to love but sadly I just didn’t love it. It was ok but not good enough to make me want to keep reading the series. I just didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters. Sadly it just wasn’t for me.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Anatomy of Death (Dr Dody McCleland #1) by Felicity Young

  • Paperback, 307 pages
    Published May 1st 2012 by Berkley Trade (first published 2007)
    Original Title
    A Dissection of Murder
    ISBN 0425247295 (ISBN13: 9780425247297)
  • Review copy provided by: Personal collection

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 2 out of 5

Genre: cozy mystery, mystery, detective novel

Memorable lines/quotes:

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