The Lazarus Curse by Tessa Harris The Lazarus Curse by Tessa Harris
Narrator: Simon Vance
Series: Dr. Thomas Silkstone #4
Published by Blackstone Audio on July 29, 2014
Source: Blackston Audio
Genres: Historical Mystery
Length: 9 hrs 38 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

In 1780s London, American anatomist Dr. Thomas Silkstone is plunged into a swirling cauldron of sorcery, slavery, and cold-blooded murder . . . When the sole survivor of an ill-fated scientific expedition to Jamaica goes missing upon his return to London, Dr. Thomas Silkstone--entrusted with cataloging the expedition's New World specimens--feels compelled to investigate. There are rumors of a potion that has the power to raise the dead--and the formula is suspected to be in the private journal that has disappeared along with the young botanist.

As Dr. Silkstone searches for clues to the man's whereabouts, he is drawn deeper into a dark and dangerous world of vengeance, infidelity, murder, and the trafficking of corpses for profit. Without the support of his beloved Lady Lydia Farrell--from whom he has been forcibly separated by law--he must confront the horrors of slavery, as well the very depths of human wickedness. And after a headless corpse is discovered, Dr. Silkstone begins to uncover the sinister motives of those in power who would stop at nothing to possess the Lazarus potion. . .

I could break The Lazarus Curse down into three parts: the mystery- what happened to Matthew Bartlett, the botanist/artist who disappeared upon returning from Jamaica; the background research and storyline on the plight of slaves who were brought to England by their masters; and what’s going on with Lydia, Thomas’ lover.

The mystery was okay. There’s supposedly a Lazarus Potion that can bring people back from the dead, and the theory is that the expedition found the formula and someone killed Bartlett for the information. There were a couple of suspects but no good option. The wrap-up to this part surprised me in a good. It was interesting how it worked out, even if I don’t entirely understand the reasoning.

The part of the plot centering around the slaves was the most engrossing. There were Americans currently staying in London. In England at the time, slavery was not legal, but the American’s slaves are still more or less considered property for all intents and purposes. Thomas sees the unfairness of how they are treated and offers to provide medical assistance free of charge for the slaves. The master doesn’t take him up on that, but he does call him when the wife becomes ill, which gets Thomas wrapped up in the drama and comings and goings of the house. At the same time, one of Thomas’ fellow anatomists is getting very fresh, seemingly healthy, black corpses to dissect. Too many of them, which raises concerns for Thomas. I thought I knew what was going on, but I was wrong. It really was horrible how they were being treated, both by their masters and fellow slaves.

If the story had just consisted of those portions, my rating would have been much higher. I could have done without all of Thomas and Lydia’s domestic issues. I did read the first in the series, The Anatomist’s Apprentice, when Lydia was introduced, but I haven’t read the intervening books. Now, Lydia and Thomas are in love, but can’t marry because of some ruling or other, I’m not sure. And she’s hired a new estate manager who seems to have his eye on her, but he’s a bit shady. Thomas and Lydia are trying to make a long-distance relationship work, but I don’t really know what they see in each other, why they’re so attached. She’s also pretty quick to get close to the new manager, not overly-familiar, but not far from it. Of course, I wasn’t a real fan of the beginning of their relationship either. And the end of this one, when it comes to what happens next for Lydia, was just ridiculous in my opinion.

I don’t think I’ll read the next in the series. Based on how this one ended, I have to assume that it’ll have even more of Lydia in it, and I just don’t know that I care.

About Tessa Harris

After studying History at Oxford University, Tessa Harris began her journalistic career on a newspaper in her home town of Louth, in Lincolnshire. She progressed onto a London newspaper, where she became women’s editor. From there she moved to become a feature writer on Best magazine. After two years she was made editor of a regional arts and listings publication. This was followed by another two years as deputy editor on Heritage magazine. Motherhood meant a spell as a freelance, contributing to several national magazines, such as Country Homes & Interiors, Perfect Home and Woman’s Journal, as well as newspapers such as The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian. During this time she also worked as a literary publicist and for a documentary-making company. In 2005 she was made editor of Berkshire Life magazine.

In 2000 she won a European-wide screenplay writing competition run by the London Screenwriters’ Workshop and the resulting screenplay was optioned by a film company. The script was set in 18th century London and her subsequent research led to the invention of Dr Thomas Silkstone, an American anatomist and the world’s first forensic scientist.