Summary and book reviews of Doctor Death by Lene Kaaberbol

Doctor Death

A Madeleine Karno Mystery

by Lene Kaaberbol

Doctor Death by Lene Kaaberbol
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2015, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2016, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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About this Book

Book Summary

From the coauthor of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Boy in the Suitcase, a "gripping plot" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and captivating historical thriller.

Strong-minded and ambitious, Madeleine Karno is eager to shatter the constraints of her provincial French upbringing. She wants to become a pathologist like her father, whose assistant she is, but this is 1894, and autopsies are considered unseemly and ungodly, even when performed by a man - hence his odious nickname, Doctor Death. That a young woman should wish to spend her time dissecting corpses is too scandalous for words.

Thus, when seventeen-year-old Cecile Montaine is found dead in the snowy streets of Varbourg, her family will not permit a full post-mortem autopsy, and Madeleine and her father are left with a single mysterious clue: in the dead girl's nostrils they find a type of parasite normally seen only in dogs. Soon after, the priest who held vigil by the dead girl's corpse is brutally murdered. The thread that connects these two events is a tangled one, and as the death toll mounts, Madeleine must seek knowledge in odd places: behind convent walls, in secret diaries, and in the yellow stare of an aging wolf.

Eloquently written and with powerful insight into human and animal nature, Doctor Death is at once a gripping mystery and a poignant coming-of-age story.

I
February 23–March 20, 1894

It is snowing. The snow falls on the young girl's face, on her cheeks, mouth, and nose, and on her eyes. She does not blink it away. She lies very still in her nest of snow, slightly curled up, with a fur coat covering her like a quilt.

Around her the city is living its nightlife, the hansom cabs clatter by in the cobblestone slush on the boulevard, just a few steps away. But here in the passageway where she lies, there is no life. Her brother is the one who finds her. He has been to the theater with some friends, and then to a dance hall, and he is happy and lighthearted when he returns home, happy and a little bit tipsy. That is why he does not understand what he is seeing, not at first.

"Hello?" he says when he notices that someone or something is lying at the entrance to his family's home. Then he recognizes the coat, which is unusual: astrakhan with a collar of ocelot. "Cici?" he asks, because that is the girl's pet name. "Cici, ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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I read this in one sitting, propping it up against the salt-and-pepper shakers at mealtimes. Right away I was drawn in by Danish author Lene Kaaberbol's descriptive prose.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal

[An] engrossing mystery that deals with the darker side of life in 19th-century Europe. With its complex characters, this is sure to please fans of historical mysteries.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Deftly exploring such themes as the struggles between mind and body, science and spirit - without detracting from a gripping plot - the novel transcends its period to contemplate the eternal.

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Beyond the Book

Lupus: A Disease of Body and Mind

The autoimmune disease known as Lupus erythematosus, or Lupus, which forms a major thread of the plot in Doctor Death, affects approximately 1.5 million people in the United States, and some five million people worldwide (estimated). Ninety percent are women who experience onset sometime between the ages of 15 and 44, and about twenty percent of them will also have a parent or other relative with Lupus. Women of color are three times more likely to be affected than Caucasian women.

According to lupus.org.uk, the name for the disease harkens back to the 13th century: "The word Lupus is Latin for Wolf. There are conflicting accounts for the origin of the term Lupus, which was first coined by the physician Rogerius in the 1200s, who used ...

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