Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Anna Kronberg Thriller, #1
Hero: Anna Kronberg
Heroine: Garret O’Hare
Date of Publication: July 16, 2014
Started On: December 04, 2018
Finished On: December 06, 2018
It was my hankering to read something different that had me taking a look at The Lion’s Courtship by Annelie Wendeberg. This is the first book in the Anna Kronberg Thriller series, and is written in the first person. This was an intriguing and eye opening look into what the rest of the series entails.
Anna Kronberg lives in the worst of the worst that Victorian London has to offer. Anna is a doctor, who is viewed by most as a “nurse”, (because why on Earth would a woman be a doctor?), treating those who would never have access to proper medical care if otherwise. She treats the prostitutes, the criminals, and the children who grow up in the miserable and abject poverty that is brought to life so vividly in this story. And then there is her secret identity where she moonlights as Dr. Anton Kronberg at Guy’s Hospital.
When Garret O’Hare comes seeking Anna’s services, thus begins a reluctant acquaintance, at least on the part of Anna. However, Garret continues to surprise her and slowly gets under her skin. And it is only Garret that is willing to help Anna in her quest to find a man who had slashed the face of a young prostitute, the prostitute having seemingly disappeared altogether.
So begins the search, where Garret warns Anna of the consequences that could come calling. There is no prettying up what the squalid conditions of where the story takes place is like. Ms. Wendeberg dishes it out as it is, and as it should be. The whole setting comes off as authentic, Anna and Garret realistic in a way that you can relate to and root for them. The menace that lingers owing to the killer is one that does not abate as the story proceeds, the ending being the most shocking of all. A killer who can outsmart everyone else, that is in reality who he is.
I read this right after I finished watching The Alienist series, which I absolutely loved. I felt as if Ms. Wendeberg’s writing carried the same vibe, and I felt just right at home with the story that unfolded.
I did take a look at the next book in the series and find that this is probably the only ending this story is going to get? Plus the series is veering in a totally different direction? I believe I might come back and sample some of the other stories in the series in due time.
Recommended for those who love historical mysteries. This one definitely and cleverly serves as the appetizer to the next installment.
Final Verdict: Ms. Wendeberg certainly has the prose, style, and wit to carry this off. Definitely gets one thinking, which I love in my books!
Rotten food was squeezed in floorboard cracks — floorboards so dirty that one must think they’d never seen a brush and a dollop of soap in their entire life.
Twelve straw-covered pallets were stuffed into the limited space. He’d had to climb over sleeping bodies to reach his bed. He can still hear the tinkling of urine in chamber pots, the snoring and grunting, the bawling of an infant, the swearing, burping, and farting. This was not the shiny paradise his once boyish mind had dreamt up. This was the place where humans had reached their lowest point and had long lost all shame.
She unlocks the small room at the very end, steps in and locks it, fumbles for the matches, then lights two oils lamps and yanks off her dress.
She hates being scared and being fragile, being the weaker of the sexes. She hates not having equal access to education, employment, and basic rights. If screaming could make things better, she’d scream until her throat turned numb.
Instead, she sheds her dress and undergarments, and opens the wardrobe where she keeps her disguise. Only ten minutes later, she’s her professional and controlled self: Dr Anton Kronberg of Guy’s Hospital.
Both women know that once the unwanted child is gone, the cycle will start anew, and there is little to be done about it. For Anna, this is hard to accept. She kills miniature children, knowing she’ll never have one of her own. Every time she holds one in her hand and sees the bloody mess of tiny limbs sliced off the small body, she looks up from between the legs of her patient and sees a woman whom nature simply hasn’t considered. Not only are prostitutes at the bottom of society’s cesspit, evolution has no regard for them, either. Without the ability to switch off conception when copulation is used to avoid starvation, prostitutes are left at a social and biological dead end.
‘Most of the time, I don’t like people. They could all be apes; it wouldn’t make too much of a difference to me.’
Garret’s breath stalls. His mind refuses to provide a meaningful analysis of Anna’s statements. ‘I don’t believe you. You help people every day. You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t like them at all.’
Several moments pass without a reply. Her breathing has grown deeper and slower, and he believes she has fallen asleep.
But then she stirs a little. ‘Because when people are sick and weak, when they fear death, they reveal who they are. They wear no masks and I can see their souls.’
‘Do you like them then?’
She sighs again, and searches for his hand he had withdrawn a moment earlier. ‘All souls are beautiful. But you…’ She presses the back of his hand against her forehead. ‘…you have an exceptionally beautiful soul.’