Devoured (A Hatton and Roumande Mystery)

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9780749013608: Devoured (A Hatton and Roumande Mystery)

London in 1856 is gripped by a frightening obsession. The specimen-collecting craze is growing, and discoveries in far-off jungles are reshaping the known world in terrible and unimaginable ways. When the glamorous Lady Bessingham is found murdered in her bedroom, surrounded by her vast collection of fossils and tribal masks, Professor Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant Albert Roumande are called in to examine the crime scene - and the body. In the new and suspicious world of forensics and autopsy examinations, Hatton and Roumande are the best. But the crime scene is not confined to one room. In their efforts to help the infamous Scotland Yard detective Inspector Adams track down the Lady's killer, Hatton and Roumande uncover a trail of murders connected to a packet of seditious letters that, if published, would change the face of society and religion irrevocably. D.E. Meredith's measured prose and eye for exquisite detail moves seamlessly from the filthy docks on the Isle of Dogs to the jungles of Borneo and the drawing rooms of London's upper class. Her slow-burning mystery builds to a shocking conclusion, consuming Victorian London - and victims - as it goes.

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About the Author:

D.E. Meredith has travelled far and wide to some of the remotest places on earth which has fuelled her imagination and continuing lust for travel. After reading English at Cambridge University she became a campaigner for the WWF, and spent ten years working for the environment movement. She has flown over the Arctic in a bi-plane, skinny-dipped in Siberia, hung out with Inuit and Evenki tribespeople and dodged the Russian mafia in downtown Vladivostok. Meredith later became a spokesperson for the British Red Cross, spending six years travelling through war zones and witnessing humanitarian crises. The experience strongly influenced her crime writing, with its themes of injustice and inequality. She currently lives on the outskirts of London with her husband and two teenage sons. When not writing she runs, bakes cakes and does yoga to relax. www.demeredith.com

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
St. Bart’s Smithfields, London 1856
Professor Hatton lay slumped. His silhouette devoured by thrown shapes from an ebbing fire which was burning low in a grate. The morgue was completely quiet. And in its chasm, Hatton’s eyes were shut, shielding out the peeling walls around him. One lamp burned on his desk. He was still awake, but only just, exhausted by the great task before him, knowing his science, forensics, was forever in doubt.
“Professor Hatton. Open up, sir. There’s a carriage waiting. You are needed urgently, sir.”
He shuddered, gathered his thoughts, wondering what the dev il time it was, but knowing Monsieur Roumande must have gone home already. Hatton found his surgical bag. He took his hat, cane, and coat down from one of the meat hooks; opening the mortuary door, he stepped into a moonlit yard. Lantern light illuminated folding drifts as he tumbled into the waiting carriage. There was no need to find his pocket watch because a bell was chiming somewhere, three times, across the velvet skies of London.
“Good evening, Professor Hatton. My name is Inspector George Adams of Scotland Yard. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?”
Hatton looked at the man sitting before him, who thumped the roof of the hansom with his cane and lit a cigarette, offering one to him. Hatton shook his head, his eyes still bleary with sleep. The coach lurched towards the river, which was nothing more than a tapered line, soon lost in a swirling pall.
“All will reveal itself when we arrive in Chelsea. Are you sure you won’t join me, Professor? They’re Turkish, you know.” Hatton shook his head again. The Inspector shrugged.“ It could be a very long night.”
Hatton took note of his companion, saying, “Your reputation goes before you, Inspector Adams. I presume this is a medical jurisprudence matter?”
“Yes, Professor,” said the Inspector, stretching his legs out, partly enclosed in a gabardine coat. “It’s a case of the upmost sensitivity. But I’ve been wanting to work with you for some time now; I’m intrigued by your new science, Professor.”
Hatton nodded. He knew a little of this man, but Albert Roumande knew more. Hatton had many times heard his Chief Diener talk of Scotland Yard’s new celebrity detective, reading bits out of the papers about various cases.
To work with Inspector Adams? Hatton allowed himself a smile.
“As I said, I’ve followed your work with some interest,” continued the Inspector, in what Hatton guessed was an eastern drawl, not unlike his own accent once, when he was a boy, but this man seemed to relish in his drawn- out vowels, whereas Hatton had long since rubbed the edges off, keen to meet the requirements for a new professorship at St. Bart’s and a position of limited standing. But here was a man who clearly took no prisoners, nor apologised for what he was. A man to admire, then.
“I’m flattered,” answered Hatton. “Perhaps it is the series of articles in The Lancet you refer to? We are so misunderstood, Inspector. Forensics needs all the friends it can get, and I understand from my fellow pathologists that you are indeed a friend. So, I’m delighted to finally make your acquaintance.”
“The Yard is modernising. Look at me, for example. Do you think I would have stood a chance ten years ago? A lad from Cambridgeshire? An out- of- town Special? But I’m a regular working- class hero now, if you follow the crime pages. Although, don’t believe everything you read about me, Professor.”
The horse whinnied as they reached their final destination.
“This way, Professor.”
Hatton followed, briefly stamping the snow off his boots, then went up the steps to a house on Nightingale Walk which loomed before him. An ornate gas lamp illuminated a green gloss door. Hatton looked skyward at the clear night sky, which was brilliantly lit by an arch of flickering stars. A flurry of snow caught his face and he relished the bite. It would be overbearingly warm inside.
“You should know this is the home of a bohemian, as they like to call themselves. Her taste is not the same as mine. Nor yours, I suspect.” Hatton didn’t know what the Inspector meant by this attempt at solidarity, but as they headed up the stairs he could see the house appeared to be crammed full of everything. Shelves were brimming over with a thousand books competing for space with rocks, shells, feathers, cases of moths and butterflies. Hatton stopped in his tracks as they turned a corner into an expression of pure evil. Slashed red and black, with eyes yellow rimmed and teeth as jagged as knives.
“A tribal mask, I think they call it,” said the Inspector. “So, you will meet their late own er now. Prepare yourself, for there’s a great deal of blood.”
The room was as the Inspector had described it. More jumble, and a small group of policemen, doing what Professor Hatton didn’t rightly know, but he could feel his temper rising as he saw these clodhoppers poking about amongst the victim’s possessions, clearly unaware that anything they moved or altered could wreck his forensic gathering.
“Please, Inspector. Would you ask your men to refrain from doing that? Yes, that!” One fellow was bending down over a four- poster bed and pulling off pillows. Hatton was no novice to murder. He told the policemen to stop everything they were doing and step aside.
The wave of uniforms parted to reveal the crime.
The body before him was shockingly white. She had melded pallid with the floor, which was covered in the softest, hand- stitched rug. Its hibiscus flower petals, its coconuts and palms, its swinging monkeys, becalmed by a seeping blackness still sticky to the touch.
Hatton was surprised to feel the warmth of her temple, although he knew it was fast ebbing away. He sprung his surgical bag open and, finding a thermometer, nodded to himself because first impressions were rarely wrong.
Hatton made a note. The state of rigor mortis was setting in just around the bottom of her jawline. Hatton stated the facts, “She’s been dead three hours, perhaps four, Inspector. The livor mortis effect is creeping across her body and her temperature will continue to drop, causing this blue marbled discolouration.”
Hatton knelt down and sniffed her skin. He felt his audience’s disapproval and so added, “It’s an unusual practice here in En gland, Inspector, but it’s a device I have adopted after hearing of my colleagues’ criminal successes in Germany, but it would be better without this infernal cigar smoke.” He sounded peevish but nevertheless couldn’t help himself, and so theatrically beat the air, which was already filled with the scent of tobacco. “When we take her to St. Bart’s, there will be no smoking there.”
“Well, of course not, Professor,” the Inspector said, drawing on his own cigarette and then, thinking better of it, stubbing it out. “But for those of us not so grounded in forensic matters, please, Professor, would you be so kind as to explain yourself?”
Hatton surveyed the room. Two men looked back at him, clearly not Adams’s minions. “Her scent is slightly odd,” he replied. “I won’t know what it is until I have dissected her.”
“Have you no respect, sir? Damn him, Adams. I thought you said this one was good. Dissected her? For God sake’s, man. You have no permission for that.”
The gentleman who had spoken was dressed in garb found only in the most elevated of London Society. Hatton had seen pictures of Sir William Broderig in the papers a great deal recently. The Liberal’s views on religion and science had ensured this peer was rarely out of the limelight. Coiffed and buffed to a shine, Sir William looked oddly out of place in this lair of death. Hatton looked at Adams for support, who interjected with, “It’s the word I think that vexes you, Sir William, but this is a police matter and so we must do as we see fit. I merely wanted Professor Hatton to see the crime scene.”
Adams turned to Hatton. “Lady Bessingham was a close friend of the Broderig family. Sir William lives in Swan Walk, just five minutes from here. A scullery maid found the body, raised the alarm, and Sir William called us immediately. Isn’t that right, sir?”
“I have known her since she was a child. And her late husband also. He was a dear friend of mine.” The gentleman stumbled a little, grasping the edge of an armchair.
“Hurry up and get Sir William a glass of porter, Constable.”
Sir William took the porter and, recovering a little, said, “I apologise, Professor. I am out of sorts. We’re most grateful for you coming here, but everything you see and hear to night must remain between these four walls. We need your absolute discretion.”
Hatton bowed. “Of course.”
Sir William gathered his thoughts and continued, “Lady Bessingham courted controversy before she died. As have I, Professor. But in death she deserves some dignity, surely? This brutal crime will have a thousand tongues wagging and a thousand of those Grub Street scribblers selling their lies for thru’pence. We will be awash with rumours before the sun has risen.” Sir William wrung his hands. “What ever you have to do, Professor, please do it, but I beg you, as a gentleman, proceed with the utmost discretion.”
Hatton answered that he would proceed as required and turned to the Inspector. “It’s a delicate question, but was she found semi- naked like this?” and as he spoke, Hatton ran his eye along the lines of her hips and curves. He was already elsewhere, thinking about the cutting of her flesh which lay ahead.
Adam...

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D. E. Meredith
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Book Description ALLISON BUSBY, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. UK ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. London in 1856 is gripped by a frightening obsession. The specimen-collecting craze is growing, and discoveries in far-off jungles are reshaping the known world in terrible and unimaginable ways. When the glamorous Lady Bessingham is found murdered in her bedroom, surrounded by her vast collection of fossils and tribal masks, Professor Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant Albert Roumande are called in to examine the crime scene - and the body. In the new and suspicious world of forensics and autopsy examinations, Hatton and Roumande are the best. But the crime scene is not confined to one room. In their efforts to help the infamous Scotland Yard detective Inspector Adams track down the Lady s killer, Hatton and Roumande uncover a trail of murders connected to a packet of seditious letters that, if published, would change the face of society and religion irrevocably. D.E. Meredith s measured prose and eye for exquisite detail moves seamlessly from the filthy docks on the Isle of Dogs to the jungles of Borneo and the drawing rooms of London s upper class. Her slow-burning mystery builds to a shocking conclusion, consuming Victorian London - and victims - as it goes. Bookseller Inventory # AAT9780749013608

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Book Description ALLISON BUSBY, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. UK ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. London in 1856 is gripped by a frightening obsession. The specimen-collecting craze is growing, and discoveries in far-off jungles are reshaping the known world in terrible and unimaginable ways. When the glamorous Lady Bessingham is found murdered in her bedroom, surrounded by her vast collection of fossils and tribal masks, Professor Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant Albert Roumande are called in to examine the crime scene - and the body. In the new and suspicious world of forensics and autopsy examinations, Hatton and Roumande are the best. But the crime scene is not confined to one room. In their efforts to help the infamous Scotland Yard detective Inspector Adams track down the Lady s killer, Hatton and Roumande uncover a trail of murders connected to a packet of seditious letters that, if published, would change the face of society and religion irrevocably. D.E. Meredith s measured prose and eye for exquisite detail moves seamlessly from the filthy docks on the Isle of Dogs to the jungles of Borneo and the drawing rooms of London s upper class. Her slow-burning mystery builds to a shocking conclusion, consuming Victorian London - and victims - as it goes. Bookseller Inventory # AAT9780749013608

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Book Description ALLISON & BUSBY, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 352 pages. 7.72x5.04x0.94 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # __0749013605

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