The great metropolis of London swaggers with Regency abandon as nineteen-year-old Will Starling returns from the Napoleonic Wars having spent five years assisting a military surgeon. Charming, brash, and damaged, Will is helping his mentor build a medical practice - and a life - in the rough Cripplegate area. To do so requires an alliance with the Doomsday Men: body snatchers that supply surgeons and anatomists with human cadavers.
After a grave robbing goes terribly awry and a prostitute is accused of murder, Will becomes convinced of an unholy conspiracy that traces its way back to Dionysus Atherton, the brightest of London’s rising surgical stars. Wild rumours begin to spread of experiments upon the living and of uncanny sightings in London’s dark streets.
Will’s obsessive search for the truth twists through alleyways, brothels, and charnel houses, towards a shattering discovery - about Dionysus Atherton and about Will, himself.
Steeped in scientific lore, laced with dark humour, Will Starling is historical fiction like none other.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Will Starling has been acclaimed by both reviewers and general readers as one of 2014’s most engaging novels. Ian Weir’s deft play with the characters and the narrative is technically dazzling but also “serves to unsettle and disturb, resulting in a novel that is at once rewarding and heartbreaking, satisfying on both intellectual and emotional levels…a splendid literary achievement and a genuine pleasure” (Globe and Mail). Plot and characters invisibly supported by meticulous research and Weir’s astounding ear for dialect and idiom place this novel with the best historical fiction. Darker themes provide appropriate weight to this rollicking tour de force.