1856, London: The specimen-collecting craze is growing, and discoveries in far-off jungles are reshaping the known world. When the glamorous Lady Bessingham is found murdered, surrounded by her vast collection of fossils and tribal masks, Professor Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant Albert Roumande are called in to examine the crime scene - and the body.
In the new and suspicious world of forensics, Hatton and Roumande are the best. But the crime scene is not confined to one room. In their efforts to help the infamous Scotland Yard detective Inspector Adams track down the Lady's killer, Hatton and Roumande uncover a trail of murders connected to a packet of seditious letters that, if published, would change the face of society and religion irrevocably.
Broderig. If this pains you.’ He shook his head. ‘No, Inspector, I’m here for this. But please …’ He gathered himself and turned back to face them. ‘You asked me, did Lady Bessingham court controversy? There was one piece of work, but I was abroad at the time. It involved a Dr Ignatius Finch and the topic was the Nature of Man. His conclusions upset her, but controversy is a debatable thing, because it really depends which side of the fence you sit on.’ ‘You mean Science or Religion, Mr
the walls of native people. Savage men with haircuts which looked like the latest gentlemen’s fashion for bowler hats. And those monstrous holes in their lobes. Why did they do that? Dr Canning had caught her staring and had asked if she would like to see the pictures better. Had she actually nodded? She had, and he’d taken a book down from one of the shelves. The image that stuck in her mind was a drawing of a young woman covered from head to foot in swirling tattoos. She had a little star and
dragging its feet, its life almost over. We all knew that it would disappear into the depths of the forest to die quietly, its final resting place a nest of leaves. Bang. One shot. A brutish laugh, then up hopped Ackerman and seized the dead monkey with his hands and tossed it into the bushes. San and Uman were silent, but I read their eyes. This is not how we treat Nature. This is not the way. But I said nothing, nothing at all. Emmerich had no interest in catching the mighty Mias. It
stomach samples with water, straining it, and removing all bits of flesh. You’ve heard of the Metzger Mirror, of course?’ The Inspector nodded. ‘Well, we used the basic principle of that test but have perfected it, trapping the vapour rising off the liquor in a test tube and then inserting a shard of cold metal at the opening. We scraped off the film and added two drops of sulphuric acid; by its colour it definitely wasn’t arsenic. Lady Bessingham wasn’t poisoned. She was probably using
little knife for his hobby, the knife that peeled his oranges, and when he looked at his beetles, it made him wistful for a time long past. When he’d been younger, sauntering along the banks of the Thames to far-flung places with country names like Barnes and Twickenham. Each village, a Norman church and a river bend, barge men and fishing folk, dairy maids and meadows. And as summer came, swallows soared overhead, their whistling cries melodic in his ears as he headed west, leaping over stiles