Book 1 of my Surgeon’s Duty trilogy — titled Ravaging the Dead — is live and can be found as both a paperback and a Kindle eBook on Amazon. It can also be found as an eBook on Smashwords. The trilogy tells a tale of body-snatchers and surgeons in Jane Austen’s England.
The year is 1816. The location is London. A rough group of body-snatchers called the Borough Boys frequently raid the Crossbones Cemetery for freshly buried bodies and deliver them to the hospital surgeons. Not far away at St. Thomas’s Hospital, a young surgeon named James Hammond is training as a surgeon pupil. He also deals with the dead, being driven to improve his skills by dissecting bodies delivered by body-snatchers.
Why write about body-snatchers (1)? In truth, I had not planned to write about them. My original idea was to write about Regency-era surgery and medicine. I had become fascinated by the primitive treatments used in Jane Austen’s day after researching and writing my first two novels: Rosings Park (2) and Cousin Anne (3). The main character in these novels is Anne de Bourgh, the young lady who has been engaged to her cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy since her infancy (4).
Thus, I began downloading and reading Google books on surgery, medicine, disease, pharmacy, hospitals, cemeteries, and dead houses. When I started researching the topic of surgery, I found snippets of information about the body-snatchers who dug up the newly dead and delivered their bodies to the surgeons. It was a lucrative business, for the body-snatchers were paid handsomely for fresh cadavers. Eventually, I bought and read three books about body-snatchers, which made me realize that I could not talk about surgery in the Regency era without also talking about the resurrection men.
I hope readers find the story interesting and perhaps a little bit shocking. After all, how would we feel if our loved ones were being disinterred during the dead of night and sold to the local hospital surgeons? It doesn’t bear thinking about!
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