Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The Edinburgh Dead
It's the year 1828 and Edinburgh is buzzing with scientific fervor as many scientists experiment on corpses. Other, more nefarious experiments are also being conducted on the dead, unbeknownst to the public until ravaged bodies turn up in the streets. Officer Adam Quire heads the murder investigation and is determined to solving the case even though the victim is of low class. Everyone else in the newly-formed Edinburgh police force is satisfied to chalk it up as an unsolved case and not waste any more time on it. Adam wants justice done no matter the class of the victim and decides to investigate further anyway, which leads him through the lowest class to one of the highest castes in Scotland.
I liked The Edinburgh Dead as a mystery, a period piece, and a thriller. The writing style is easy to read, but more formal than usual, reflecting a slightly modernized version of the writing style of the era. I really liked the main character, Adam Quire. He had a rich back story and experienced the senselessness of war during his time serving in the Napoleonic Wars. The flashbacks to that time in his life were powerful and really captured the unpredictability and horror of war. He saw the poor and unprivileged fighting and dying for the rich and their sovereign. Because of his history, he had no tolerance for the poor being graverobbed in the name of science and constantly dismissed by the majority as unimportant. I also liked Adam's straight-forward attitude and manner. He did what needed to be done and didn't agonize or mope when things went wrong in the pursuit of doing what he believed in and what was right. He proved to be a great contrast to the villains and higher class people who only cared about status, power, money, and upward mobility.
Unfortunately, the zombie element in the novel is relatively small in the greater scheme of things. The main villain's evil sidekick manservant is a zombie, but really some sort of evil spirit possessing a dead guy. He could move from dead body to dead body for the rest of time if he wanted, making him pretty scary, but not too zombie-like. The only zombie beings were dogs that did the villain's bidding and got rid of people who proved to be a problem. They were scary, but didn't have the same effect as people turned into zombies.
The Edinburgh Dead was an enjoyable horror and mystery that incorporated a lot of disparate aspects and manages to make them all work fairly well. The change of locale to Scotland served the story well and gave the story a whole different feel than other books I have read. My only complaint was that there weren't more zombies and they did not play as big of a role in the story as I expected based on the title and the . If you are interested in a period novel about class warfare and magic, then this is for you.
My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins