The Devil's Grin: Illustrated Edition (An Anna Kronberg Thriller Book 1)

Free The Devil's Grin: Illustrated Edition (An Anna Kronberg Thriller Book 1) by Annelie Wendeberg

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Authors: Annelie Wendeberg
Tags: thriller, London, Victorian, sherlock holmes, Anna Kronberg
should have had the infection somewhere in his gastrointestinal tract, but there was nothing of that kind. I thought of strychnine next, until I finally found the tetanus infection. Hold on to your armchair, Mr Holmes,’ I said. He merely raised an eyebrow. ‘It was in his heart.’
    ‘In his heart!’ he cried. ‘How could it have got there?’
    ‘I don’t know.’ I sighed and rubbed my eyes while uncomfortable thoughts started creeping into my head.
    ‘What is it?’ Holmes enquired while Watson was silently listening and digesting the fact that I was not only a female medical doctor, but a well-known one on top of it.
    ‘The man from Hampton hadn’t had any infection in his guts, either,’ I explained quietly. ‘Well, aside from cholera. But no tetanus infection. Neither of the two men seemed to have ingested tetanus germs. For the toxins alone to be lethal, one would have to eat quite a lot of diseased animal — the size of a human, to equal the amount of a lethal dose, I’d guess.’
    ‘You did not section the left hemisphere of the Hampton man’s brain,’ noted Holmes.
    ‘Is there a way to obtain the hemisphere?’
    ‘Sadly not. Cholera fatalities are burned as soon as possible. The man is ash, Mr Holmes. I am very sorry.’
    The man next to me stirred. ‘Would someone be so forthcoming as to explain why Dr Kronberg is a woman and why the two of you are investigating a case where, quite obviously, a crime has not been committed?’  

    I couldn’t help but think of the body-snatcher business many years ago. Anatomical research needed bodies for dissections, but only hanged murderers were delivered to medical schools. The result was that these corpses were reused so often that their remains looked more than just tattered. But where there is demand and money to pay for such services, someone will make an offer. Body-snatchers soon figured out that freshly buried people could be dug up in the dead of the night and sold to medical schools. Very soon, however, these few cadavers of mostly old or diseased people did not suffice…

    Body snatcher, 1829 (13)

    Holmes and Watson fell quiet. Their silence interrupted my train of thoughts. Both were gazing expectantly at me and I wondered whether I had missed a question.
    ‘Watson and I were just discussing the curious incident of the non-existent entry wounds. Watson believes it must be an airborne version of tetanus.’
    ‘Hmm… That could be a possibility, if tetanus germs weren’t strictly anaerobic. They peg out when they get a whiff of fresh air.’
    Watson coughed. ‘Well, then someone must have injected it, but that is impossible!’
    ‘Why do you think so?’ asked Holmes.
    ‘Because no one could possibly do such a horrid thing!’
    I rose to my feet, faced both men, and spoke quietly. ‘How do you think we learned so much about anatomy in such a short time? History is repeating itself, Dr Watson. Our species has always exploited the weak, be it actively or by ignorance. When anatomists wanted fresh bodies, it didn’t take long until they got them. How anyone could have believed their claim not to have known these were murder victims they procured is a mystery to me. Several medical doctors even placed orders — pregnant women, children, newborns, and malformed people. And they got these delivered as well.’
    The thought of the homeless not daring to fall asleep on the streets drove a chill up my spine. The danger was ever-present; someone could suffocate them and cart them off to the next anatomical school. The two men were quietly listening — Watson had his shoulders drawn up, as though to cover his ears, and Holmes clicked the mouthpiece of his pipe against his front teeth.
    I continued. ‘In a single year, Burke and Hare killed seventeen people in Edinburgh alone and sold all their corpses to Dr Robert Knox, who convinced the authorities that he’d had no idea they had been murdered. How can an anatomist not know that he

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