The Cadaver of Gideon Wyck

by Alexander Laing

The best way to make life bearable, in such a case, certainly would be to withdraw into the imagination and to notice nothing outside.

Here is the extraordinary murder mystery as narrated by a witness to most of the true events, with the names of the characters, the school, and even the state falsified to protect the players.

Gideon Wyck, genius and instructor at a prestigious medical school, is mixed up in medical abnormalities affecting newborns in the area. His experiments on mothers too poor or otherwise maligned to pay for proper medical attention find themselves at a facility that provides free care in exchange for student experience. Wyck may have been abusing the facility to further his own research, but when he shows up dead, a victim of a mysterious murder, the school is turned upside down.

Murder mysteries, the really good ones, have a necessary built-in level of complexity that keeps the characters guessing at the correct next move and stumbling over various incorrect ones. As far as overall plot complexity is concerned, this one’s right up there with The Maltese Falcon. It threatens to become a horror story and crosses over occasionally, but never quite gets all the way there,  being more content as a crime novel that absolutely defies those rather annoying friends who’re always bragging they knew who the killer was by the third chapter, those geniuses. (If you’ve got one of ‘em around, hit ‘em in the head with this book.)

It’s not a convoluted plot, but is quite complex, and its complexity is multiplied by the medical setting, one which is a bit outside most of our areas of expertise. This book won’t sink you, but it consistently pays out just enough thread to keep you diving deeper.

The Cadaver of Gideon Wyck is a damned-fine mystery.

“Some day the truth will out. If it comes too late to affect persons now living, that may be for the best.”

4- stars



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