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A Grave Robbery

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A Grave Robbery (2024) Deanna Raybourn (Veronica Speedwell)

A Grave RobberySet in London in 1889

Lord Rosemoran has purchased an amazing wax figure that may or may not be an Anatomical Venus, and has asked Stoker to see if he can add a clockwork mechanism to simulate breathing.

He gestured towards her midsection. “Well, if she is an Anatomical Venus, she would be complete. Thorough. Intact, as it were.”

I stared at him for a long moment before understanding dawned. “You mean she would be—”

“As detailed as an actual woman. In every particular.”

“All the more reason to include Lady Rose,” I said. “The child is on the cusp of puberty and heaven alone knows if anyone has prepared her for it.”

“But in that case surely she ought to have a few more accoutrements. An opening that would approximate a vag—”

“I beg you not to finish that thought,” he pleaded.

“I am simply pointing out that if the intention of such a figure is to provide sexual gratification, she really ought to come fully equipped for such activities.”

However Stoker quickly discovers the reason the Beauty looks so realistic, is because she was once alive.

“It is to do with the water,” Stoker said in an absent tone. “Whatever method was used to preserve her must first have removed the water from her tissues. Water is the author of destruction, hastening decomposition.”

I was fascinated by the bits about the Anatomical Venus and other wax figures.

The Anatomical Venuses described in this book were created as teaching aids as well as objects of entertainment and titillation. For a comprehensive overview of this phenomenon, The Anatomical Venus by Joanna Ebenstein is highly recommended.

The rest of the story, however, felt over the top and heavy handed.

“Whose body?” J. J. demanded.

“That is what we were hoping you could help us discover,” Stoker said.

“But how?” J. J. asked. “How does one simply acquire a body?”

“Ours was purchased at auction,” I told her.

Mornaday groaned again, and Stoker passed him the decanter as I rose.

Characters: Stoker, Veronica, JJ Butterworth, Mornaday, Sir Hugo, Lord Rosemoran, Lady Rose, Professor Pygopagus, Lavinia, Plumtree, Parthenope Fleet, Julius, Spyridon, Despard, Lady Cordelia Beauclerk

Cover design and art by Leo Nickolls

Publisher: Berkley

Rating: 7/10

 

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