Please tell me this will be a series!
Set in the year 1910 in and around London, “The Wrong Sort to Die” completely captivated me from page one, and I found it hard to stop reading until I was all done.
Our main protagonist, Margaret, is a sharp, gutsy, empathetic, independent and determined pathologist, (very unusual for early twentieth century London) who is not afraid to stand up and fight for what she believes in. Margarette is a well-to-do suffragette, a loner, and is constantly at odds with the predominantly male and blatantly sexist culture she lives in. A formerly betrayed wife, and now a widow, Margaret is lonely to her core, suspicious of and too smart for the few male “prospects” who have come her way; in short, Margaret is a complex and beautifully drawn character, and it’s not at all hard to relate to her sometimes despair with her unconventional life and the crushing force of its insulation.
“Was it a little worrying that humans sometimes made more sense when they were dead and on a slab?”
The book is heavily character-based, and the details are immersive – we quickly come to live and breathe Margaret’s world; her friends, her family (especially her wonderful sister, Katherine), her medical colleagues, her suitors, and her “enemies” all come alive on these pages, along with the superbly crafted historical setting – which sharply contrasts the dangerous and de-humanizing streets, hovels, and workhouses teeming with the desperate and poor; against the humming and buzzing of a privileged London, cushioned and unaware, in their carriages, newly emerging motor-cars, fancy clothes and terraced finery.
Margaret’s occupation places her in contact with a mysterious ailment which she comes to recognize is striking young impoverished men in their prime, initiating a sudden and painful lung-related death, that is similar but not the same, as the currently rampant tuberculosis or pneumonia. As she works to get to the bottom of the “how” and then the “why” these deaths are occurring, Margaret finds herself meeting new and dangerous people, including an intriguing character known only as Fox.
No spoilers here. The plot unfolds in interesting and sometimes complex details, that don’t seem to connect at all, until of course they do! All along the way, the dialogue is witty and engaging, and I fully enjoyed the surprises several characters had in store for us, right up to what I found to be a very clever and satisfying finale.
I sincerely hope we will be seeing more of Margaret and her friends in book to come. Until then, all I can say is – they will be missed!
A great big thank you to the author for a review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts presented are my own.