Some said I must have been possessed by a demon to take on the position as superintendent at the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness. On exhausting days like this, I was in total agreement.
Shaking out my hat and gloves on the stoop outside the Establishment, I determined that the smuts swirling through the London air in a never-ending cloud of ebony flakes were the most repellent thing I'd ever encountered. They say it's even worse once winter sets in. I had been out for a mere hour to visit my family's banker, and in my short walk to and fro had accumulated enough coal dust in my hat and on my gloves and shoulders to form a diamond.
No Cure For the Dead is the first book in Christine Trent's new series featuring Florence Nightingale and I enjoyed it so much! You can read about how I acquired it and met the author at the Malice Domestic Mystery Conference here. I used to read more historical mysteries, but have not picked up very many in recent years. However, I was quite interested in hearing about them at the mystery conference. And as I have a daughter who has been a nurse for 13 years, I've heard a lot about nursing as a profession. This book was fascinating in so many ways. It also contains an extensive 'author note' at the end to explain more.
I think sometimes we forget how very differently nurses were viewed in the 19th century. They were considered the dregs of society for the most part and no 'decent' woman would consider calling herself a Nurse. Florence Nightingale changed all that. No Cure For the Dead takes place before the Crimean War and before Miss Nightingale changed nursing forever. In this book, she has recently become the Superintendent of a sort of hospital for women. Right away, there are problems and a dead body. As Florence tries to formulate how she will train her staff to measure up to her standards for nursing, she is also investigating that death. Lots of things happen - accidents - or not. Christine Trent has included a wealth of info regarding healthcare in the Victorian Age, some of it quite odd. As I said, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with the characters and the setting. And I'll be watching for the second book, while also checking out the author's other series - first book is Lady of the Ashes. Recommended.
It is 1853. Lady of the Lamp Florence Nightingale has just accepted the position of Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness in London. She has hardly had time to learn the names of the nurses in her charge when she suddenly finds one of them hanging in the Establishment’s library. Her name was Nurse Bellamy.
Florence’s mettle is tested by the dual goals of preserving what little reputation her hospital has and bringing Nurse Bellamy’s killer to justice. Her efforts are met with upturned noses and wayward glances except for her close friend and advocate inside the House of Commons, Sidney Herbert. As Florence digs deeper, however, her attention turns to one of the hospital investors and suddenly, Sidney becomes reluctant to help.
With no one but herself to count on, Florence must now puzzle out what the death of an unknown, nondescript young nurse has to do with conspiracies lurking about at the highest levels of government before she’s silenced too.