Review: The Scent of Murder by Felicity Young

 

Title: The Scent of Murder { Dr Dody McCleland #3}

Author: Felicity Young

Published: Harper Collins Australia March 2014

Status: Read from May 08 to 09, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy Harper Collins}

My Thoughts:

The Scent of Murder is the third remarkable installment in Felicity Young’s historical mystery series featuring Dr Dody McCleland, autopsy surgeon. It follows The Dissection of Murder and Antidote to Murder, both five star reads, which impressed me with their rich historical setting, superb characterisation and intriguing plots.

When, in The Scent of Murder, a human skeleton is discovered buried in a stream bed in the grounds of Fitzgibbon Hall the guests, present for a four day house party, speculate the bones could be thousands of years old. Dody, reluctantly chaperoning her younger sister Florence and her new beau, Tristam, volunteers to examine the remains, glad of the excuse to forgo participation in the fox hunt and avoid their lecherous host, Tristam’s uncle, Sir Desmond. With careful analysis, Dody concludes the bones have lain hidden for no more than ten years and the skeleton is that of a young female murdered by gunshot. Evidence found with the body suggests the girl was a resident of the local poorhouse but no one seems interested in identifying her, or hunting for her killer, so Dody calls on the help of her paramour, Chief Detective Inspector Matthew Pike of Scotland Yard. Together their investigation uncovers a conspiracy of greed, ghostly visions, and a predator who will stop at nothing to protect his deviant secrets.

The pace of this mystery is perhaps a little more sedate that previous installments but lacks none of the clever and well crafted plotting I have come to expect from Felicity Young. The ‘cold case’ is the catalyst for unveiling a cache of secrets in the small hamlet of Piltdown, including murder, corruption, profiteering and perversion. Both Dody and Pike face challenges in their investigation, the local constabulary and magistrate, whose pockets are lined by Sir Desmond Fitzgibbon, resent Pike’s presence and are largely uncooperative and Dody is distracted by a frightening attack on her person, Tristam’s injury and an outbreak of Scarlet Fever at the neighbouring workhouse.

The novels in this series always reflect the female experience of the social and political milieu at the turn of the century and The Scent of Murder is no exception. In this instance, Young explores the sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children, vulnerable to the desires of those who wield power of them, unable to complain knowing they are likely to disbelieved and probably found at fault. This is particularly true for the girls of the Piltdown Workhouse who are at the mercy of the sadistic Matron and Master in the Scent of Murder, but no woman is immune. When Dody is brutally attacked by Sir Desmond he taunts her with the knowledge that reporting the incident would undoubtedly ruin her reputation and career, while his would remain unscathed.

A fascinating forensic element of Dody and Pike’s investigation is Pike’s attempt to use the fledgling science of ballistics to identify the gun that fired the fatal shot, and subsequently its owner. It is an interesting process requiring the co-operation of a dentist and blacksmith, and not that different in technique to the method used today.

The Scent of Murder, like its predecessors, offers vivid historical detail, compelling characters and an absorbing story. The Dr Dody McCleland Mysteries are an excellent historical crime series, certainly one of my favourites, and I’m eagerly looking forward to its continuation with The Insanity of Murder in 2015.

To learn more about Felicity Young and for your chance to win a copy of The Scent of Murder, click here to read my Q&A with the author.

The Scent of Murder is available to purchase from

Harper Collins I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

Amazon US

The series is also published in the US by Berkley Crime

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teddyree
    May 12, 2014 @ 14:33:37

    How on earth have I missed this series?? Thanks for the heads up, I think I’d love it … straight onto my wishlist!

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  2. Trackback: AWW Feature & Giveaway: The Scent of Murder with Felicity Young | book'd out
  3. June
    Jun 29, 2014 @ 13:22:09

    I am currently reading The Anatomy of Death and thoroughly enjoying it, even though crime/mystery is not my favourite genre.

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  4. Trackback: Review: The Insanity of Murder by Felicity Young | book'd out

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