Book Review of The Anatomy of Deception

The Anatomy of Deception
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Helpful Score: 1

Ephraim Carroll is a physician in 1889 Philadelphia, whose career is about to take off. He is being asked by his mentor Dr. Osler to join him at the new Johns Hopkins hospital, where the latest surgical techniques will be taught by a pioneering surgeon. During an autopsy session, Dr. Carroll notices a curious reaction on the part of Dr. Carroll and a fellow doctor (Turk) to one of the corpses. It is the body of a pretty young woman, well-kept, not one of the typical, poor human beings that are usually brought in for autopsies (at that time, autopsies were viewed by many to be a desecration of the human body). During a dinner Dr. Carroll hears that the daughter of a well-to-do family has disappeared and her friend asks him to help find her, because she has reason to believe that she might have contacted a doctor or hospital. He suspects that the body in the morgue is the missing woman, but when he checks the "Dead House" the body is no longer there.

He embarks on a search to find out what has happened to the woman, and finds himself befriending and being threatened not only by the seedier parts of society, but also by powerful families. When a fellow doctor is killed, he begins to unravel the secrets of his present and future mentors and ultimately has to make a choice between exposing (and ruining) a brilliant surgeon (which would most likely throw back surgery and thus condemning hundreds of future patients to die unnecessarily), and saving the life of a fellow colleague.

The story is fictional, but the characters are based on real persons, and the techniques used and state of medicine at the time are accurate. It was an informative read, and had well-fleshed-out characters. I enjoyed this book.