Corridors of the Night by Anne Perry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am always delighted to find a new Anne Perry, whether it is a Monk or a Pitt novel. This is a Monk novel and a little different from the usual plot line. Anne Perry always leaves a reader with something to think about and 'Corridors of the Night' touches closely on a topic which is just as relevant today.
That is one of the joys of a well written historical. It can tackle topics which are sensitive today and because the setting is the past, make readers see more clearly the problem, at a distance from the present hot debate.
'Corridors of the Night' deals with medical/scientific research, what is and is not acceptable in the effort to save lives. It's always a difficult topic, and certain things - animal experiments, experiments on prisoners, the rights of the individual - make it a real hot potato. In the novel we have a doctor and chemist experimenting with blood transfusion.
We simply accept this as standard procedure but in Victorian times it's accepted that people die from loss of blood, and there is no way to prevent it. It wasn't until 1901 that blood groups were discovered and so enabled doctors to make successful blood transfusions. One can imagine how desperate doctors and nurses were to see blood transfusions working in Hester Monk's day.
And so the story starts with Hester standing in for a sick friend at a hospital she has not worked in before. Dr Rand welcomes her special skills learnt nursing during the Crimea. His brother, the chemist, is delighted with her. When she discovers children locked in a secret ward, who are being used to supply blood, things start to become more than criminal, it's all about ethics. When a dying man, wealthy and obsessed with living, demands treatment for his blood disease, then Hester finds herself facing the ethical dilemma. Not so Hamilton Rand. Kidnap, mayhem and court trials follow. As readers we are made to think because Hester knows how vital it is to humanity to learn how to give a blood transfusion. She is torn between ethics and that huge step to save lives.
As usual Anne Perry gives readers a well written story. Her word choice is always delightful and her dialogue nicely Victorian without being obscure. The tone of this novel is more sombre than usual, but it is, as ever, a great read with a story that lingers and makes readers think.
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