The Anatomy Murders – Lisa Rosner

The Anatomy Murders

The Actual Title :

The Anatomy Murders: Being the True and Spectacular History of Edinburgh’s Notorious Burke and Hare and of the Man of Science Who Abetted Them in the Commission of Their Most Heinous Crimes

That was too much for my heading! Eek!

Find it on Amazon

This was another book that I got from the library! Again, dragging around in the “True Crime” section and came across it. I liked it, but there was a lot of information. There was some stuff that I just didn’t understand easily. A lot of information is written in accounts and just the differences in language from then to now had me slowing down and really having to pay attention. Because of that, it wasn’t an easy read and I found myself grabbing other books to read to relax rather than this one.

It does have a lot of medical procedures, especially in regards to autopsy’s and how they were done then. I really enjoyed that. It was interesting to read how things were done by the pioneers of the medical (surgical) occupation.

It does raise good points in how coming across bodies to “practice” on were and should have been procured. Even now, If you ask the majority of people if they would donate their bodies to science after they were gone for physicians to learn how to operate on living people, people are going to be against that. If that wasn’t the case, then graveyards wouldn’t be needed anymore.

I don’t know that I could actually do it. I mean, it’s a good thing. And, surgeons now need to learn how to operate and work on things like fine motor skills, but the idea creeps me out. Organ donation individually, I’m all for. But, just being like “Here’s my fat body.” to science, No.. And yet, the idea of a funeral/viewing with an open casket freaks me out. I mean, who is going to shave my face after I die so that I don’t have a beard in the casket? Nobody, that’s who. And, I read somewhere that the embalming practice adds 200-300lbs to your body. I’m already fat. Shit like that freaks me out. It shouldn’t, but it does.

Anyways, one of the points in the book to consider was if people who died indigent and in the care of the hospitals because they had no money, should be made to have their bodies taken to the medical schools for teaching purposes. I don’t know what the right answer to that is. I can’t say yes knowing how I feel about the idea of that for me, but on the other hand, again, surgeons need to learn the art somewhere.


I really found the murders in the book to be at the end of the list of what this book was really about. I mean, honestly. We didn’t really learn much. From the 16 victims, I would have expected more. But, really, who knows what really happened. What they do know was from someone who talked to be able to escape prosecution. People lie and make up stories all the time.

I was surprised at the brunt of the blame that Dr. Knox took. It seemed that in that day and time, everyone just kind of turned their heads, and Dr. Knox and his assistants did the same. But, it seemed to follow him around for the rest of his life. Had he asked any number of questions, maybe some of the victims wouldn’t have died. Or, maybe they would have just been taken to other anatomists. Who knows?


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