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Body snatchers plague 1782 London in Harris's outstanding sequel to 2012's The Anatomist's Apprentice. In particular, unscrupulous anatomists covet the body of Charles Byrne, the celebrated eight-foot-tall "Irish Giant," who is appearing at the annual spring fair near the home of Dr. Thomas Silkstone's love interest, Lady Lydia Farrell, in Oxfordshire. When Lady Lydia prevails on Silkstone to examine Byrne, the physician concludes that "our giant may not be long for this world." Meanwhile in London, Silkstone comes to believe that an innocent man is being railroaded for the suffocation murder of Signor Cappelli, a castrato whose larynx was surgically removed postmortem. Well-rounded characters, cleverly concealed evidence, and an assured prose style point to a long run for this historical series. Spoiler alert: the introductory author's note gives more of a sense of plot developments than some readers will want. Agent: Melissa Jeglinski, the Knight Agency. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Lady Lydia has brought Irish giant Charles Byrne to London because he desperately wants the king to pardon his late father (who was executed for a murder he didn't commit). Enlisting the help of Dr. Thomas Silkstone, Lydia embarks on her worthy mission. Complications arise. Thomas worries about Dr. John Hunter, a brilliant anatomist, and his interest in Charles because, frankly, John collects body parts. Then, a talented young castrato is murdered just after his triumphant concert; his larynx has been surgically removed. Thomas suspects John of the worst. What Thomas doesn't know is that a darker conspiracy threatens both physicians. VERDICT Populated with real historical characters and admirably researched, Harris's novel features a complex and engrossing plot. Some of her dialog grates (particularly the foreign accents), but this is a minor flaw. A touch of romance makes this sophomore outing (after The Anatomist's Apprentice) even more enticing. Savvy readers will also recall Hilary Mantel's The Giant, O'Brien. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.