Newly divorced Julia Hamill is digging in her back garden when she uncovers a human skull belonging to a woman which, according to medical examiner Maura Isles, is over a century old. So begins a story that goes back to the 1830s; to a teaching hospital in Boston where doctors with dirty hands spread infection, when labouring mothers are crammed two a hospital bed on sheets still encrusted with the foul discharges of those who have died before them; to a medical student, Norris Marshall, who is forced to perform the most disgusting and secretive job of all. Norris is a resurrectionist - a body-snatcher - a man who procures cadavers from grave robbers in order to further his study of human anatomy. And he is aided in his pursuit of knowledge by a fellow student, Oliver Wendell Holmes. Together they will hunt down the most notorious killer of their time who preys on the unwary; a shadowy figure whom Norris and Holmes track through graveyards and autopsy suites, through glittering ball rooms and the luxurious drawing rooms of Boston Brahmins. What neither of them realise is that the killer is far closer than they think ...Woven into this historical story is Julia's present-day narrative.
With Maura Isles' help, she will work to uncover a secret that, over a century later, proves more shocking than she can imagine.
Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms. But her interests span far more than medical topics. As an anthropology student at Stanford University, she catalogued centuries-old human remains, and she continues to travel the world driven by her fascination with ancient cultures and bizarre natural phenomena.