Anatomy of Deception – Review

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The Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone
Age: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Location: Philadelphia

One of my favorite things about e-books is that you can still continue to browse books long after bookstores and libraries have shut down for the day. This is precisely how I across this title, Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone.

The book is set in late 19th century Philadelphia. We are given a brief head’s up of what’s in store by the narrator when he spends a good four pages talking about Sherlock Holmes and the use of forensic science in solving crimes. The novel is a fictional murder-mystery played around authentic scientific leaders of America’s past, namely William Halstead and Dr. Osler’s assembly of students.

Through a series of events, the young narrator is somehow shoved into the role of detective, trying to figure out what happened to a young woman, a young woman he saw a glimpse of at the “Dead House” where he and his fellow students study and practice autopsies.

What I found the most attractive about this book is the author’s writing style. I felt as if I was reading a book set and written in the late 19th Century, instead of the 21st Century. Goldstone is very skilled with his pen. The mood of the book is very dark, paranoid and full of deception. Nearly each scene takes place at night, or somewhere dark, so that there is always a shadow of doubt that follows the narrator. There are plenty of well placed twists to make the whodunit guessing game all that much more frustrating for the reader. The investigation itself uncovers a lot of provacative issues, such as the moral and ethical values of autopsies, of abortions, of women’s rights, and of the greater-good mentality to science.

Goldstone takes a few liberties with the chronology of inventions and some of the character histories, which he fully explains in his author’s note. This is otherwise a gripping and fantastic tale that any fan of historical fiction would enjoy.


Anatomy of Deception
by Lawrence Goldstone
Delacorte Press, 2008
eISBN 9780440337423
353 pages


Find this book at your local library

One response to “Anatomy of Deception – Review

  1. Pingback: 2009 Recap « The Novel World

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