The Wages of Sin

Pegasus Crime. Mar. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781681773322. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681773865. M
OrangeReviewStarMedical school is hard enough, but when you're one of only a handful of women at an elite Edinburgh institute in Victorian-era Scotland, "hard" doesn't begin to describe the experience. Such is life for the steadfast Sarah Gilchrist, who's braving the (unnamed) male-dominated school that may have accepted her on paper but certainly doesn't welcome her. A former London debutante who was raped by the son of a lord and then thrown in a sanatorium to be treated for her alleged "promiscuity," Sarah discovers that her past makes her even more of a pariah at school, though she does eventually find a friend. When she recognizes one of the anatomy class corpses as a working girl she met while volunteering at a clinic, Sarah is determined to uncover whether the girl committed suicide or was murdered. Her investigation takes her from Edinburgh's less-than-savory opium dens and seedy gathering places to its more high-society watering holes. Sarah is a spunky but historically accurate heroine, bucking the most restrictive traditions in order to comment on them.
VERDICT The first book in what will, one hopes, be a long-running series, featuring a new kind of historical leading lady, Welsh's debut is an inspiring feminist tale perfect for the modern age.

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