Devoured Review
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Theories of evolution began in London in 1856. Science developed into a craze of specimen-collecting in far-off jungles to prove those theories. It soon turned into a battle ground between the church and so-called heretics—and neither side was adverse to murder when it came to protecting their beliefs. It was also the beginning of forensic science—and those who practiced it were seen as butchers.

After receiving controversial letters from a dear friend who’s traveling in Borneo, Lady Elizabeth Bessingham is murdered in her bedroom, surrounded by her scientific collections. However, the letters are stolen, and no one can find the maid who might know what the letters contained. Lady Bessingham’s friend isn’t forthcoming about what he wrote, either, making the case a nightmare for Scotland Yard’s Inspector Adams.

Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant, Albert Roumande, are the best forensic scientist of their time, but murders aren’t confined to an autopsy examination room. In their effort to help Inspector Adams find a killer, they uncover a trail of bodies that leads back to treasonable letters that could destroy more than one reputation and upset the religious world.

Devoured is a fascinating and sinister mystery set in Victorian London—in a time when a person could be killed for believing in something other than what was accepted. But if not for free thinkers, forensic science probably wouldn’t be putting many criminals behind bars today.

While I found the forensics intriguing, though, I couldn’t quite warm up to Adolphus Hatton and Albert Roumande—or even Inspector Adams. They seemed to be mostly in the background of the plot, and I didn’t feel as if I really got to know them. But perhaps that’s what the author intended—and the science was meant to be the main character. If so, then Ms. Meredith did her job well, bringing out the world of early science through the letters to Lady Bessingham and the primitive morgue where autopsies were performed.

As you read Devoured, you’ll also have to concentrate on the mystery and not let your mind wander. Otherwise, you may end up missing something—and then nothing will make sense. A lot goes on throughout the story, and it will keep you on constant alert as you try to figure out what exactly is going on with all of the characters. Even then, the conclusion is unexpected, but it’s plausible if you’ve been paying attention.

Since I love to learn about the origins of forensics, I’ll definitely pick up the next book in the Hatton and Roumande series. I just hope that I’ll get to know the characters a little better next time.

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