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May 15, 2007

Triumph of the Resurrection Men

Bravo to J. G. Sandom for this terrific review of RESURRECTION MEN in the April issue of Publishers Weekly.

"Welsh's (The Unresolved) latest historical novel takes readers on a haunting tour of London's underclass during the 1830s. Victor is a 12-year-old Italian boy whose cheerful life in Modena is dramatically altered when his parents, suspected revolutionaries, are murdered before his eyes by Austrian soldiers. Victor is sold to a merchant who uses him as a cabin boy; he adjusts to the brutal life on board the ship, but his ill luck is unrelenting: while escaping a crew member who attempts to molest him, Victor breaks his leg and is tossed overboard. He washes ashore in England, and is taken in by an elderly man who helps him learn English and recover from his injury. But the man eventually sells Victor to a pair of grave robbers, the eponymous "Resurrection men" who steal corpses for doctors' use in research and dissection. The men bring Victor to London, where he joins a guild of beggars and befriends some fellow outcasts. His luck finally begins to change when a wealthy physician makes him his apprentice, but Victor discovers evil practices within that profession as well. Welsh's visceral descriptions of industrial London are unflinching: in the city's meat market, 'Many sheep were skinned while alive. And horses were frequently stabled in the putrefying remains of their fellows, maimed and starving, awaiting their own executions. Somehow they knew. Victor could see it in their pitiful eyes.' Teens will likely be both captivated by Victor's harrowing story as well as his ability to prevail in the face of harsh injustices."

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