Review: Corrupt Bodies by Peter Everett

Title: Corrupt Bodies: Death and Dirty Dealing in a London Morgue

Author: Peter Everett

Published: November 1st 2019, Icon Books

Status: Read December 2019 courtesy Allen & Unwin

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My Thoughts:

Corrupt Bodies is a fascinating memoir of Peter Everett’s time as Superintendent of Southwark Mortuary, one of the UK’s busiest morgue’s, during the 1980’s.

Peter had always been fascinated by death but he was in his early thirties before landing a job as an intern at a hospital mortuary. Just six years later he was both honoured, and surprised, to be offered the position at Southwark but within days of his appointment he understood why the role had been so difficult to staff.

It wasn’t just that the mortuary more closely resembled a Victorian era ‘dead house’ than a modern medical facility with its rusting fixtures, grimy floors and poor ventilation. Nor that the workload was heavy and he was on call practically 24/7. Peter quickly discovered that many of the staff were corrupt, exploiting not only financial arrangements with coffin suppliers and hearse drivers, but also profiting from money, property and body parts stolen from the dead.

Exposing the corruption took Peter months, and earnt him enemies among his colleagues and the police (who served as coroners officers). The stress of these events, plus the steady increase in cases both banal and gruesome,several of which are outlined in the book, eventually took a toll, and Peter suffered a nervous breakdown.

Gripping, Intriguing, and disturbing I found Corrupt Bodies to be a compelling read about death, and life.

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Available from Allen & Unwin *Recommended retail price $29.99AUD

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