A smaller than average group of twelve turned out for this month's Whodunit meeting. We welcomed a new member, Kim.
The discussion question: "If a complete stranger viewed the list of books you have read over the past five years what would they think of your reading choices?"
The answers were varied. Some who read only mysteries and suspense might be viewed as blood-thirsty or a little warped. On the other hand they might be perceived as having a thirst for justice that real-life seldom affords... Some who read a lot of non-fiction might be perceived as intelligent. Those who read a variety of genres might be perceived as being 'well-rounded'. As many of us frequently wonder what others think of us, this was a question that provoked some thought.
This month's book for discussion was "Anatomy of Deception" by Lawrence Goldstone.
A historical forensic mystery, the novel was set in 1889 Philadelphia. Members agreed the book was well researched and that although complicated the plot was entertaining in a didactic way. The novel featured real people and fictionalized characters together. One of the real people in the novel was Dr. William Osler who has been referred to as 'the father of modern medicine'. Dr. William Osler was a bibliophile who collected the works of Michael Servetus. Another was Dr. William Stewart Halsted, an American surgeon of some reknown. Some members did not approve of the way the real people in the novel were portrayed in a less than flattering light and thought that the author took unnecessary liberties in that regard. A few readers believed the book should have used fictionalized characters to be implicated in the crimes, and left the real people's memory unsullied.
The painting on the dustjacket is a famous work by artist Thomas Eakins which now hangs at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
"Anatomy of Deception" depicted the 'old-boy' network thought prevalent in the medical profession. The idea that physicians will cover for each other, regardless of whether guilty or innocent. Another theme was the moral rationale of 'the greater good'. The question of who is valuable... the dilemma of sacrificing a few for the benefit of the many...
The book accurately described historical medical practices and recounted several events in this pivotal time in the history of medicine. During the time period in which the novel was set, autopsies were very controversial and the fact that the doctors in the novel used autopsies to further their knowledge of the human body made them ahead of their time and ground-breakers in the practice of forensic medicine.
To listen to a filmed interview with the author, Lawrence Goldstone click here.
The lucky winners of the book draw for this month were: Betty, Kim, Marlene, and Lynne.