printed copy

The Devil's Breath: A Dr. Thomas Silkstone Mystery

Tessa Harris

ISBN 9780758267009
Publish Date 12/31/2013
Format Trade Paperback
Categories Kensington, Historical

Eighteenth-century anatomist Dr. Thomas Silkstone travels to the English countryside to unravel a tangled web of mystery, medicine, and murder—in this captivating new novel from Tessa Harris…

A man staggers out of his cottage into the streets of Oxfordshire, shattering an otherwise peaceful evening with the terrible sight of his body shaking and heaving, eyes wild with horror. Many of the villagers believe the Devil himself has entered Joseph Makepeace, the latest victim of a “great fog” that darkens the skies over England like a Biblical plague. When Joseph’s son and daughter are found murdered—heads bashed in by a shovel—the town’s worst suspicions are confirmed: Evil is abroad, and needs to be banished.

A brilliant man of science, Dr. Thomas Silkstone is not one to heed superstition. But when he arrives at the estate of the lovely widow Lady Lydia Farrell, he finds that it’s not just her grain and livestock at risk. A shroud of mystery surrounds Lydia’s lost child, who may still be alive in a workhouse. A natural disaster fills the skies with smoke and ash, clogging the lungs of all who breathe it in. And the grisly details of a father’s crime compels Dr. Silkstone to look for answers beyond his medical books—between the Devil and the deep blue sea…

Praise for The Dead Shall Not Rest

“Outstanding…well-rounded characters, cleverly concealed evidence and an assured prose style point to a long run for this historical series.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Populated with real historical characters and admirably researched, Harris’s novel features a complex and engrossing plot. A touch of romance makes this sophomore outing even more enticing. Savvy readers will also recall Hilary Mantel’s The Giant, O’Brien.” —Library Journal

Praise for The Anatomist’s Apprentice

“Densely plotted… We await—indeed, demand—the sequel.” —The New York Times Book Review

“An absorbing debut… Harris has more than a few tricks up her sleeve and even veteran armchair puzzle solvers are likely to be surprised.” —Publishers Weekly

“Smart misdirection and time-period appropriate medical details make for a promising start to a new series. A strong choice for readers of Ariana Franklin and Caleb Carr.” —Library Journal

About Tessa Harris:

Since leaving Oxford University with a History degree, Tessa Harris has been a journalist and editor, contributing to many national publications such as The Times and The Telegraph. She has also acted as a literary publicist for several well-known authors. Winning a European-wide screenplay writing competition led to the optioning of a screenplay, set in 18th-century England. Using her researches into the period, she wrote The Anatomist’s Apprentice.

Maureen McLean Photography

Shadow of the Raven Q&A

At the end of The Lazarus Curse you left your readers hanging on a cliff. Is that situation resolved in Shadow of the Raven?

Yes. In fact a few readers asked me to tell them what happens next! Obviously I’m not going to let on, save to say that while the course of true love does not run smoothly in Shadow of the Raven, it comes a little closer to a resolution.

Romantic Times said: “The twists and turns never stop, making Shadow of the Raven impossible to put down”. How do you keep your plots boiling?

There’s some careful planning, but there’s also an element of chance, too. A word, a phrase or a situation may trigger something completely different in my mind. The plot has sometimes turned on a sixpence and gone off in another direction. I very often start off with a murderer, only to change the identity of the culprit at the end. It certainly makes the writing process exciting for me and, I hope, it keeps the reader guessing all the time, too.

Each novel seems to have a different theme or backdrop. What is it in Shadow of the Raven?

The latter half of the 18th century was a time of incredible social upheaval in the countryside. In England it also saw the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. The villagers and commoners on the Boughton estate face eviction in this novel, as well as having to deal with the fall-out from at least one murder deep in the woods, as well as being rocked by some shattering news.

Your research appears very detailed. How do you go about it?

Most authors of historical novels will tell you that the research is absolutely the best bit! For ‘Shadow’ I visited some wonderful open air museums that focused on rural crafts and traditions. I talked to people who practice the ancient crafts of coppicing and charcoal making, too. I also went on a tour of mills in the Cotswolds, as well as trawling through lots of old documents. Fascinating stuff!

What’s next for Dr Silkstone?

I’m currently working on the sixth novel in this series. The past comes back to haunt Thomas and Lydia in this one. Fans of The Anatomist’s Apprentice will recognize some of the characters and it’s going to get very nasty!


Average Customer Review

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Customer Review

Truly the Breath of the Devil (Saturday, January 4, 2014)
Reviewer: Kathy Jund

Tessa Harris returns once again to bring us the third installment in her Dr. Thomas Silverstone mystery series! Tessa brings forward a mysterious incident from the past to enlighten her readers along with suspense surrounding an unknown suspect (or suspects as it may be) responsible for four murders that draws her Dr. Silverstone to the forefront in gathering clues to not only solve the murders but also provide an answer to the strange phenomena which surrounds their small town of Oxfordshire with only his wits and the resources surrounding him in 1783 England.

Thomas Silkstone a doctor in his own right, trained in America, although living in England these past nine years as apprentice to the renowned and highly respected anatomist Dr. Carruthers (who to Thomas’ great fortune had come to be not only his mentor but a very dear friend) was still looked upon as that “upstart doctor from the colonies” by all the locals. Considering that the events of late have also branded him with a reputation of using science to also solve murder cases that he unwittingly found himself embroiled in, to his credit not only performing post-mortems, but also searching out the clues as to the guilty party. Thomas, in preparing to leave London to visit the love of his life, the recently widowed Lady Lydia Farrell felt uneasiness come upon him that he could not explain. Thomas would not be deterred however, because he had made a promise and nothing would keep him from it. How soon he would find upon arriving at Boughton Hall the country estate of Lady Farrell, nestled in the small village of Oxfordshire that the events there would test all his training. While searching for clues to the missing child he has sworn to find, although feeling thwarted at every turn it is the sudden arrival of a mysterious acrid fog causing death and destruction to anything in its path; whether it be man, beast or vegetation; thick enough to block the light of day had settled in for a long stay. As Thomas attempts to try and alleviate the suffering and come up with an explanation the small shire also falls victim to two murders which once again becomes a call to action for the young anatomist to find the truth.

A returning cast of endearing characters make this an outstanding series to follow! Readers can’t help but be compelled to find out how the good Doctor will solve the cases at hand!


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