Posts Tagged ‘women pathologists – fiction’

False Mermaid by Erin Hart

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I have just finished reading another mystery featuring a female investigator and which also heavily involves folk culture. Recently the culture was native Alaskan; this time it is Irish. In False Mermaid by Erin Hart Find this book in our catalog forensic pathologist Nora Gavin struggles to convince the St. Paul, Minnesota police that her brother-in-law was the culprit in the unsolved murder of her celebrated actress sister five years previously.

For those five years Nora has been in Ireland where, unable to face the salacious rumors circulating about her dead sister and frustrated by the police and their inability to pin any concrete evidence on the husband, Nora had fled. There she has been working with an archaeologist exhuming bodies from the bogs, sometimes using her forensic abilities to solve contemporary murders.

Concerned about the fate of her niece when her (Nora is convinced) murderous brother-in-law announces his impending re-marriage, Nora returns to the US. Now she is determined to bring some closure to the mystery by finding new evidence. She quickly does find more evidence, using her forensic pathology skills on the body of another murdered woman. Nora also finds clues left for her by her sister. The action quickly hots up as Nora is followed and begins to fear for her safety and the safety of her witnesses. She goes back to Ireland and finds herself on the run, together with her niece who has run away from her father. The whole plot is cleverly interwoven with the story of the mysterious disappearance of an Irish fisherman’s wife one hundred years ago. The story lives on in folk memory in a song that becomes key to the solving of Nora’s mystery.

If you like rich Irish local color evocatively rendered you will like this book. If you like old folk tales and stories and songs you will like this book. There is also plenty to interest fans of forensic pathology and of fast-moving mysteries with plenty of action, but also times of introspection. At the bottom of everything is love, which can be both transformative and destructive.

Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Find this book in our catalog

Rarely do I so enjoy a book that I look forward during the day to returning from work and resuming the story that I was forced to leave the night before. I found, however, that this was one of those stories in which you “live,” so much are you absorbed by the characters. I was sorry when it ended, though the mystery needed to be solved, and I will look for others in the series.
This is part of a series of mysteries featuring a woman forensic pathologist at the court of Henry II of England, 1133-1189. This mystery involves Adelia, our pathologist in the affairs of the Abbey at Glastonbury and the finding of the supposed grave of Arthur and Guinevere. Henry II, hoping to defuse a Welsh rebellion, has commanded Adelia to prove whether or not the long-hidden skeletons are really those of the Once and Future King and his Queen. Adelia when she arrives at the Pilgrim Inn finds that she has arrived in a community fraught with dangerous secrets and violent emotions.
The basic premise of a woman pathologist is totally anachronistic, but the author makes it credible – the woman learned her skill in Saracen Sicily. The other medieval details are well-researched and add color and credibility. The author also uses modern language and slang, explaining why in a postscript, and this actually adds to the authenticity. I thought the conversation of the characters was one of the delights of the book: it makes them seem entirely real and also introduces frequent notes of humor. Note, though, that everyone makes use of swear words. This is perfectly right with the context, but some may be offended.
I think that fans of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael series of mysteries will fall upon these books with delight. The pathologist, Adelia, solves the mysteries by using clues from the bodies and the crime scene just as Cadfael did. Her investigations turn up issues of morality, spirituality, honor, and good and evil in unexpected places. In this book there is a strong monastic and Welsh connection. I think also fans of Celtic tales and mysteries involving holy relics and ancient puzzles will enjoy this. I certainly hope so, because I’m hooked!
Other titles in the series I will be trying are:
The Serpent’s Tale
Mistress of the Art of Death