by F.R. Tallis (Macmillan) ISBN 9780230760806
The title refers to an incident at a mission hospital in the tropics in the 19th century, where young doctor Paul Clément witnessed a ritualistic murder and was prohibited to speak about it and cursed if he did.
Clément is fascinated by near-death experiences and back in Paris he becomes a pupil of Duchenne, the pioneer of electrical resuscitation techniques and later works for Charcot, father of neurology. Tempted by the accounts from his patients of a voyage to the frontier of eternity, he endeavours on a daring experiment.
Based on true historical facts and with a good dose of intellectual discussion, the book got me enthralled. The complexity of human decisions and how people are influenced and responsible for their acts are major themes. Halfway through however, it turned into too much of a blood sucking story to my taste, when Clément is possessed by a demon.
F.R. Tallis is an experienced writer and a clinical psychologist. A few of his crime novels have been shortlisted for crime awards. This latest work is beautifully written and imaginative, with a lot of Faust-elements and philosophical concepts, which I found fascinating and because of that I can recommend it.
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