Review – The Anatomy of Ghosts

The Anatomy of Ghosts

By Andrew Taylor

Hyperion

ISBN: 9781401302870

2.5 stars

1786; Cambridge, England; ghosts; a mystery — How could I go wrong? Well, I won’t go and say it was wrong but I will say this one wasn’t my cup of tea. I finished and I’m glad I did but didn’t feel satisfied. There’s nothing specific I can point to but it didn’t come together for me. Wrong book, wrong time?

John Holdworth, a recent widower grieving not only his much loved wife, but his son who was also lost tragically, is called upon by Lady Oldershaw to reestablish her son’s reputation. Frank Oldershaw, a student at Jerusalem College in Cambridge, has been a patient at a mental hospital ever since he saw the ghost of a woman supposedly haunting the college grounds. As John has written a book stating ghosts are mere delusions, Lady Oldershaw believes he’s the best person to investigate her family’s little problem and convince her son that what he saw wasn’t real. What John Holdworth finds at Jerusalem College is much more complicated that he imagined.

John isn’t, for me, a likable character. While his wife is grieving their son, and talking to charlatans in the hopes of hearing her son from the other side, he’s writing a book about how ghosts don’t exist. When she finally succumbs to her grief, his life crumples and he moves along wondering what will happen to him but he’s so drained he can’t even bring himself to feel. Then it happens, he loses everything and ends up working a case of a ghost. Irony there for ya isn’t it?

The whole time I was reading I kept wondering why this guy was doing the investigation. Yes, he was discreet. Yes, he needed a job. Yes, he wrote a book about ghosts. But none of it worked for me. I kept thinking it didn’t make sense. And the mystery; I barely noticed it. Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention but I didn’t really care what happened to a group of young, rich men who thought they owned and ran the world and had the privilege of treating everyone around them badly because their money declared they could. Although to not be entirely negative, there were a few interesting plot twists but again I couldn’t bring myself to care much.

I read some good reviews of this several months ago so take what I said cautiously. This was a book that didn’t work for me but that doesn’t mean anything other than I didn’t get into it. In the front of the book I read, there was a list of books by the author and some sound promising. I’m going to try one more book and see how I feel about Andrew Taylor’s writing after the second chance. Sometimes a few bad characters make the difference between loving a book and merely liking it.

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2 thoughts on “Review – The Anatomy of Ghosts

  1. I love Andrew Taylor as an author and this is one of my favourite books. It is I think much more about the characters and the atmosphere, the history and the setting rather then the mystery which strangely, isn’t the true focus.

    My favourite of his is the Roth trilogy… which is sort of a story about a psychopath, starting in the present then working it’s way backwards. It’s told from different perspectives and is sort of a character study from afar because it’s always other people’s views.

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