Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Flesh Market by Richard Wright

   The Cadaver Riots began in Edinburgh in the early 1800's.  Why were they named so?  Because of the mob of cadavers that swarmed the city, tearing at and eating people wherever they found them.  Many were wounded and died from the attack.  And many more were to have nightmares about that night replay over and over in their heads for a very long time.  The poor population was what had been affected the most.  No one knew where the bodies came from or why they came back to life.  Dr. Knox is hell bent on finding the answers they need, although it is illegal to harbor a revenant (one of the undead).  He teaches medical students about the anatomy of the body and must have cadavers on hand for practicing on.  Some would say that his business was shady because he bought bodies that had passed on.  At that time in history, it was looked down on, but robbing graves was much worse than buying the bodies.  He and his few assistants begin taking in revenants and start cutting them up to find out why they are coming back to life.  The answers seem to evade them and when revenants come in that they recognize, questions are raised about the ethics of what they were doing as well as where the bodies were coming from.
   Bill and Nelly came to Edinburgh a year after the riots had happened and neither had ever seen one until they had moved here.  A friend of theirs had offered cheap lodging for them, but because things were tight, Bill and Nelly felt like they needed to "help" Maggie, the friend and owner of their current lodgings.  Maggie is willing to go to great lengths to get money, and her new (and very young) husband, William, is willing to go even further.  There is evil surrounding him that everyone seems to sense.  The selling of the revenant that came back to life in Maggie and William's lodge house to Dr. Knox is just the beginning of the slope Bill and William slip quickly down.  It doesn't take long for them to start murdering people and waiting for them to turn.  Funny thing is that they always do, and even in his almost constant drunken stupor, Bill starts to suspect that William knows how to turn them.  Bill had long suspected William of being a very dangerous man, and the further into the story you get, the more you can see why.

   Gruesome and fascinating.  A true terrors-of-the-night type of thriller.  Horror fans, this is the book for you!  Although written in a somewhat older style, to match the times no doubt, it is very in depth and many issues and thoughts come from what is really right and wrong in situations such as this.  How far would one go to find answers?  And how far would others go for money?  Bill Burke is pulled into William Hare's world of evil rather quickly.  To douse his conscience, he stays drunk most of the time.  He cannot handle what he is partaking of without it.  And unfortunately, Bill feels stuck in his position.  He knows William will come after he and Nelly.  And he has to keep Nelly safe.
   The most interesting thing about this novel is how it was based on real events.  While the Cadaver Riots (and undead in general) were a fabricated part of the story, the Burke and Hare murders were not.  It was very real.  These two men did start murdering people and selling their corpses to a Dr. Knox.  There were several victims of these two Irishmen.  If you would like to know a little about these murders check out the link below:

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