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Category: Uncategorized

Review: The Insanity of Murder by Felicity Young

Reviewed by Damian Magee

The Insanity of Murder is the fourth book in the Dr Dody McCleland series written by a Western Australian author, Felicity Young.  It is published only as an e-book from Harper Collins. Dody first appeared in A Dissection of Murder and this was followed by Antidote to Murder and The Scent of Murder. All these are also available as paperbacks.  The series is set in the Edwardian period, at the height of the suffragette movement.  Dody is England’s first female autopsy surgeon, in a very patriarchal society.  She finds herself helping Chief Inspector Pike to solve various crimes, whether he wants her to or not.

This fourth mystery begins with Dody’s sister, Florence, a fully fledged suffragette planting a bomb at the Necropolis Railway Station with one of her compatriots.  The plan goes wrong almost immediately when a night watchman arrives.  With no time to disarm the bomb and escape the nightwatchman, Florence knocks him out and they drag him away before the bomb explodes.  The police and Dody arrive in the aftermath, to find the unconscious nightwatchman, and also body parts of an unidentified woman. In the ensuing hunt for those responsible for a bang much bigger and with much more serious consequences than planned, a witness comes forward.  Lady Mary Heathridge identifies the dead woman, which leads Dody & Pike into the world of upper class rest homes for women, and many twists to the plot thereon.

The characters in Felicity Young’s book are very well drawn; when I read the first novel A Dissection of Murder, I felt a real connection to Dody, her sister Florence, and Chief Inspector Pike.  I found their voices well defined and I’m always happy to dive into Dody’s world with each book.

Dody and her sister come from a bohemian family who are part of the Fabian Society, modelled quite closely on Felicity Young’s great grandparents.  Both these woman strike out in a man’s world to prove that they are equal to men, Dody as a doctor, and her sister Florence joining the suffragette movement, firstly peacefully, then taken to the extreme.  Chief Inspector Pike is a man of his times, but he loves Dody and has a teenage daughter Violet, and slowly his opinions change.

Dody is loosely based on Felicity’s grandmother, one of a handful of female graduates of Trinity College, Dublin. Read the notes at the end of the book for further information.  With each book in the series, Felicity shows the changes in the suffragette movement, and the responses from the government in trying to curtail it.  This book deals with a major incident for the suffragette movement that took place at Ascot Racecourse.

The Insanity of Murder is currently available for AU$0.99, on Amazon.au. It was published on 1st August 2015.