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The Anatomy of Deception - Review

Along with his wife, Lawrence Goldstone has written a number of highly enjoyable nonfiction works about collecting rare books. The Anatomy of Deception is Mr. Goldstone's foray into Crime Fiction writing. Not surprising given the authors PhD in Constitutional studies the period detail as it pertains to Philadelphia is the best part of this book. As a recent tourist in that city, THD found Goldstone's ability to conjure the images of 1880's Philadelphia to be wonderfully transportative prose.

This is the section where should add some small recap of the plot. I generally feel that is what the inside of a dust jacket is for, but let us not break with convention. Dr. Ephraim Carroll is a young doctor under the tutelage of Dr. William Osler. Osler shepherds a number of Doctors and Philly Hospital and when one of them turns up dead young Carroll is drawn into the underbelly of Philadelphia (low & high) society.

The who-done-it aspects of the book are not much to trumpet here which is to say that it is efficient if unspectacular. Where Goldstone turns his attention is the moral ambiguity of the whole situation, namely Doctors who perform abortions and Doctors who take drugs. What is right and what is wrong? Who is served better by facilitating these men and their activities even if there is collateral damage. This is a highly reductive take on what the book is trying to explore. However, I think this take gets to the root of the book, and from my point of view it certainly provided the most interesting reading where the plot/narrative were concerned.

This is a good bit of historical crime fiction. The devil is in the details and Mr. Goldstone gets them right in spades. I should mention many of these characters are real life people which I am sure adds to the flavor of the book... that is if you are up on your late 19th early 20th century medical history.


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