Book Review: The Body on the Bed by Leonard Krishtalka


The Details:

The Body on the Bed by Leonard Krishtalka
Published: September 2021
Publisher: Anamcara Press
Genre: Murder Mystery, Courtroom Drama
Pages: 396 
Available: ebook, paperback

Sex: 💓 Mild sexual content
Violence: 😨 Well it is a murder mystery! Nothing graphic

The Blurb:

Reporter Mary Fanning finds the body on the bed, poisoned.

Mary finds the body on the bed in the house next door. Smart, tough and inquisitive, she covers the murder trial as the first woman reporter for the Kansas Daily Tribune. Amid the upheaval of post-Civil War Lawrence, she unravels the diabolical plots and desperate lives that led to three dead bodies and a shocking last act.

Did a doctor's brazen affair with his patient's wife incite him to murder? On the morning of April 28, 1871, the body of Isaac Miles Ruthman is found poisoned in his bed in Lawrence, Kansas. His doctor, John J. Medlicott, a fervent churchgoer, is arrested and charged with first degree murder. He's carrying a picture of Ruthman's wife, Anne Catherine, and two of her love poems in his wallet. He'd visited Ruthman the previous evening to give him a medicinal powder--a poison cocktail of deadly nightshade and morphine, according to the autopsy.

Is it a coincidence that the doctor's wife, Sarah, died suddenly and mysteriously just four months earlier? Did Medlicott first kill her, then Ruthman? Or did Ruthman commit suicide, depressed over his finances and ill health--authorities had to break into his bedroom when they found the door locked from the inside.

Mary Fanning, sharp, strong-willed, and the first woman correspondent for the Kansas Daily Tribune, is assigned to report on the trial and investigate Ruthman's poisoning. Her independence leads her to fight for suffrage for women and Blacks in post-Civil War Kansas. Her ardor leads her into an illicit love affair with a woman. Her incisive mind leads her to uncover lives torn by lust, obsession, and deceit, a trail of dead victims, and the fiendish scheme behind the body on the bed.

My Review:

Reviewer's Note: Thank you to the author for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

The Plot in brief: A man is found dead in his bed behind a locked door. His doctor is arrested and tried for the murder. But there is more here than meets the eye and it's up to intrepid reporter, Mary Fanning, to solve the case. 

The Characters: The author has taken a story from the pages of history, blown off the dust and brought a colorful cast of characters to life. Mary Fanning Apitz is ahead of her time, or perhaps just right for her time. Unhappy in her marriage she finds love in the arms of another woman. She fights for the right to choose her name and espouses the rights of women to vote. To her husband's displeasure she gets a job as a reporter for a local newspaper after the mysterious death of a neighbor. Krishtalka does an amazing job of fleshing out the victim, his floozy wife, the strange doctor and a host of courtroom characters. 

The History:  I have to admit, I don't know a lot about the period immediately following the Civil War, especially as it pertains to the Mid-West. The story takes place in 1871 in Lawrence, Kansas. We get a real feel for the town and it's inhabitants. I really enjoyed the courtroom scenes which are the bulk of the narrative. I was surprised by how familiar the process seemed. There is  a lot to absorb in this story, from the chemistry of poisons to the minutia of daily life in a rural town. I found it all fascinating. 

The Writing: Very well written and edited. The prose is fluid and wonderfully descriptive. I really felt like I could picture the scenes in my head. This is the second book I've read by this author and I really enjoy his writing style. 

Recommendation: I would highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction. Read it for the story--Stay for the history!

My Rating: I give this book 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐stars

Check out The Body on the Bed on Amazon. 


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