Genre: mystery/thriller, historical fiction
Year Of Publication: 1st March 2016
Pages: 307 ( paperback)
My rating: 4/5
This book introduces us to a fictionalized version of Walt Whitman (the American poet). Set in the 1800’s New York city Walt Whitman finds that his dear friend Lena Stowe is to be hanged for the murder of her husband ; Abraham Stowe. To prove her innocence Walt (a reporter for the Aurora)sets out on a journey that will test his limits and make him question all that he believes.
I really like historical fiction and I like it even better if actual history is somehow incorporated into it. (am I making sense?).Speakers of the Dead delivers that effortlessly. Not only did I enjoy reading the book but I ended up learning something along the way.
One of the characters that intrigued me most was that of Elizabeth Blackwell (she appears for a short time but is integral to the story).However, one of the main things this book addresses is the topic of “Human Dissection”. At a time when people were dying (in abundance) because of diseases for which cures had yet to be found – medical students/instructors were willing to pay hefty amounts to obtain cadavers for dissection to further their understanding of the human anatomy. As there was no way of obtaining these bodies legally grave robbing became a lucrative business and Resurrection Men became feared.
(It was later that The Bone Bill was passed in 1854 which made it easier for the medical community to legally procure cadavers.)
This book did a great job in introducing me to Walt Whitman. We are made to understand how the change in his writing style occurred -in the span of thirteen years, and what were (supposedly) the influences behind it.
“It seems to me that everything in the light and air ought to be happy,
Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave let him know he has enough.”
J.Aaron Sanders has done a great job in weaving a story that will make you read till the last page. If you like fast-paced books with action, are a fan of mystery and like your books with a side of history (that rhymed) I recommend that you immediately read Speakers of the Dead. I look forward to reading more of his works in the future.