Review: Antidote to Murder by Felicity Young

 

Title: Antidote to Murder {Dr Dody McCleland #2}

Author: Felicity Young

Published: Harper Collins Australia March 2013

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from April 26 to 27, 2013 — I own a copy{Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Antidote to Murder is the second enthralling book in Felicity Young’s historical mystery series featuring Dr Dody McCleland. Set at the turn of the 19th century in England this story plays out against a backdrop of political and social unrest as suffragettes demand the vote, labour strikes cripple London and German spies seek British intelligence in preparation for war. In Antidote to Murder, Dody’s pursuit of her medical career makes her the target of unscrupulous colleagues and ambitious misogynists. Framed for the death of a scullery maid who was the victim of a botched criminal abortion, and with Dr Benard Spillsbury away and Chief Inspector Pike missing, Dody is forced to face her accusers alone while trying to unmask the real culprit butchering desperate young women.

In my thoughts about A Dissection of Murder I lauded Young’s fascinating balance of political and social commentary with crime and mystery and the author has achieved that same balance here.
With Dody accused of committing a criminal abortion resulting in death, a large part of this story explores attitudes to family planning in the early 1900’s. With contraception prohibitively expensive, abortion criminal and unwed pregnancy resulting in social ostracism, women shouldered both the blame and the responsibility for pregnancy. Uniformed about their own bodies and often seduced by loving promises, young women sought desperate means to end burgeoning pregnancies namely ‘backyard’ abortions procured by knitting needles, poisons and other dubious means.

Though Dody is not a militant feminist, and is against abortion, she does feel strongly that women should be informed about birth control methods, including contraception. Already in defiance of social convention as a part time assistant forensic surgeon for London’s Home Office, the coroner’s court is willing to accept the flimsy circumstantial accusations against her with the view that a woman doctor is ‘unnatural’ and therefore an acceptable scapegoat.

The execution of the plot and the way each element fits is quite brilliant. The search for the real abortionist has plenty of twists and turns as suspicion is cast about. A doctor obsessed with Mata Hari presents as a likely suspect as does one of Dody’s jealous colleagues. Dody’s sister, Florence, involves herself in the search inadvertently forcing the killer to act.
Detective Inspector Mathew Pike is absent through much of this struggle, on special assignment for the Home Office investigating an exotic dance troupe, but returns to defend her once he is aware of what she is facing. He and Dody have not yet acknowledged their affection for one another but as they grow closer, Dody is forced to confront her conflicting desires.

Antidote to Murder combines a fascinating setting with superb characterisation and an intriguing plot. Along with A Dissection of Murder, this is a spectacular series I can’t praise highly enough and recommend without reservation.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lindsey
    May 01, 2013 @ 01:14:31

    There is something both intriguing and horrifying about older methods of medicine. I always find the thought process behind the methods interesting, but it makes me truly thankful to live in the 21st century!
    Is there going to be a third book in this series?

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  2. Felicity
    May 01, 2013 @ 17:22:05

    Yes, there is Lindsey. The Scent of Murder will be out this time next year.
    Thanks for the fantastic review, Shelleyrae!

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      May 01, 2013 @ 18:13:07

      Great news Felicity, I was trying to look for the answer to Lindsey’s question when you gave it. I know I am looking forward to the third.

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      Reply

  3. stacybuckeye
    May 02, 2013 @ 03:55:34

    Now I’m curious about the first one. Off to check it out…

    Like

    Reply

  4. Tien
    May 03, 2013 @ 09:00:04

    Ooh, I love these type of books! A bit like Mistress of the Art of Death (set in Medieval England) which I really enjoyed.

    Added these 2 to my TBR 🙂

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    Reply

  5. Trackback: AWW Feature & Giveaway: The Scent of Murder with Felicity Young | book'd out
  6. Trackback: Review: The Scent of Murder by Felicity Young | book'd out

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