Reviewed by Matthew Johns
Another beautifully bound tome from Tartarus, this tells the story of the drunken womaniser Hans Schneider. A medical student who kills a fellow student in a duel, he is banished to a remote hospital, deprived from the pleasures of the flesh he desires and working for the enigmatic Dr Lavenza.
The hospital turns out to be more than it initially appears, with many inmates undergoing pioneering medical treatments from the talented, yet mysterious doctor. As the story progresses, we learn that he is related to the legendary Victor Frankenstein, who was more than just a legend. The monster that he created has followed his descendants making them try without success to create him the bride he was promised.
Upon finding Dr Lavenza’s laboratory, Schneider’s initial thoughts are of touring the world, charging admission fees to see Dr Lavenza’s marvellous combinations of cadaver flesh and science, including legs that can walk without a body attached to them and a disembodied hand that can grab, hold and shake other hands. As he is taken into the doctor’s confidence, he realises that his limited, capitalist viewpoint is flawed. Not everyone or everything can be bought or blackmailed.
The characters within this book are complex and very well written; Lees does an excellent job of depicting the world and ideals of the early 1900’s. Tension mounts throughout the novel, building towards the inevitable conclusion.