Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Speakers of the Dead - J.Aaron Sanders

Speakers of the Dead is a mystery novel centering around the investigative exploits of a young Walt Whitman, in which the reporter-cum-poet navigates the seedy underbelly of New York City's body-snatching industry in an attempt to exonerate his friend of a wrongful murder charge.

The year is 1843; the place: New York City. Aurora reporter Walt Whitman arrives at the Tombs prison yard where his friend Lena Stowe is scheduled to hang for the murder of her husband, Abraham. Walt intends to present evidence on Lena's behalf, but Sheriff Harris turns him away. Lena drops to her death, and Walt vows to posthumously exonerate her. 

Walt's estranged boyfriend, Henry Saunders, returns to New York, and the two men uncover a link between body-snatching and Abraham's murder: a man named Samuel Clement. To get to Clement, Walt and Henry descend into a dangerous underworld where resurrection men steal the bodies of the recently deceased and sell them to medical colleges. With no legal means to acquire cadavers, medical students rely on these criminals, and Abraham's involvement with the Bone Bill—legislation that would put the resurrection men out of business—seems to have led to his and Lena's deaths. 

Fast-paced and gripping, Speakers of the Dead is a vibrant reimagining of one of America's most beloved literary figures. 

My thoughts:
I do not know a lot about Walt Whitman; poet, American, and then my knowledge ends. Sorry Walt, but you might have been mentioned or not. All I remember from that poetry class I took is Rochester, and my lovely WW1 poets. But never mind that! In this fictional story that blends fact with fiction we get to see him when he was a journalist and struggling writer, and not the famous man he will be later on.

New York, the 1840s. A time of immigration, cholera, a police force not always doing police work, a time of lynch mobs (those are so scary). Not a time of justice.

What we then get in this book is a mystery, Walt's friend is hanged for the murder of her husband. He refuses to believe it (and she is obviously framed is my first thought too.) He tries to get to the bottom of this and believes it has to do with the corpse business. Medical school needs corpses, corpses are dug up from graves. A nasty business. But I get it, they need corpses, for science

Then we also have the Women's Medical school where it all happened, and the struggles women went through to be taken seriously. A woman doctor, madness!

Conclusion:
It all blends together in a well written interesting historical mystery. A great era. A dangerous era for asking questions. But Walt was never afraid of getting to the truth of things.

Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Plume
Historical mystery
For review

40 comments:

brandileigh2003 said...

Great to hear it was a well written historical myster

Jenny said...

I honestly don't know much about Walt Whitman either. Fail. Glad this was a fun read for you!

Karen said...

Another great review for this one!

Karen @For What It's Worth

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

I really don't know anything about Walt either. I read a review for this last week and I was surprised to learn that he had a boyfriend in this one. Who knew? Not me.

Carol said...

Sounds like one I would love.

Blodeuedd said...

:)

Blodeuedd said...

I am glad I do not have to know anything to read it ;)

Blodeuedd said...

:D

Blodeuedd said...

I think so too

Blodeuedd said...

Yes he did. I did check wiki afterwards and it does seem he had many ;)

Lover Of Romance said...

oh I love a great historical mystery!

Blodeuedd said...

Me too!

Joyousreads said...

Don't know much about Walt as well, but I've read a good review of this book and have wanted to read it ever since. I'm definitely curious now!

Lekeisha said...

I love historical mysteries. Especially when they center around well known people.

Kindlemom said...

I love a good historical as well. Glad this worked for you!

Sophia Rose said...

I wasn't fond of his poetry, but I would definitely read a mystery with him as the detective and cool, a Mark Twain sighting.

Melliane said...

it's great to find a good historial mystery!

Blodeuedd said...

It was so well written

Blodeuedd said...

I am so not into contemporary, but historical and I am all yes

Blodeuedd said...

:)

Blodeuedd said...

Also Poe ;)

Blodeuedd said...

That it is

Piecraft Bucharest said...

Wow, what a find, Linda! I'm adding this - thank you so much :) Walt Whitman caught in a murder conspiracy? Of course I'm interested!

Simply Angela said...

I've never been a fan of Whitman, but I do like a good mystery, so I'm going to be looking for this one.

Simply Angela

Melanie Simmons (mlsimmons) said...

This sounds like a very interesting read. I'm not usually big on historicals, but a murder mystery around science sounds really interesting. Great review. :-)

Unknown said...

I know that they're gimmicky, but I love seeing novels that incorporate famous writers into their story arcs. I'm definitely intrigued by the medical school for women - very cool!

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

I do like the sound of this one :)

Jen Twimom said...

Sounds interesting. Of course, I know about the same as you when it comes to Walt. I think we studied him in American Lit back in 11th grade!

Blodeuedd said...

Yes! I do think you would enjoy it

Blodeuedd said...

And I still have not read a poem by him

Blodeuedd said...

I love historical. Mystery, not so much, but set in a historical setting and I am all yes

Blodeuedd said...

I do not mind them. I like it

Blodeuedd said...

:)

Blodeuedd said...

It makes sense we are more focused on Europe so poor Walt might have gotten a passing mention

Anachronist said...

"A nasty business. But I get it, they need corpses, for since."

For...since? You lost me :D

Blodeuedd said...

No idea what I meant...oh science

Carole Rae said...

oooh Walt. I like some of his stuff.
This sounds good.

Blodeuedd said...

:)

Anna (herding cats-burning soup) said...

lol I can't say I know much more than that about him either.

Blodeuedd said...

;)

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