Christopher Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman’s collaboration The Way of All Flesh: a 19th century Edinburgh medical mystery

Canongate pre-empted world rights in The Way of All Flesh, the first novel in a new historical crime series by Ambrose Parry. The backdrop is the medical world of Edinburgh in the 1840s and the invention of chloroform. Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for the international bestselling and multi-award-winning Chris Brookmyre and Dr Marisa Haetzman, a consultant anesthetist with a Master’s degree in the history of medicine. Francis Bickmore, Canongate Publishing Director, acquired world volume, ebook and audio rights from Sophie Scard at United Agents and the novel will be published as a Canongate superlead in hardback in August 2018.


The Way of All Flesh is set in Edinburgh in 1847, a dual city, at once a place of sophistication that is home to brilliant advances in medical science, and a city of great poverty with a truly unsavoury, violent side. Will Raven is an aspiring young doctor, apprenticed to the esteemed professor of midwifery, James Young Simpson. After a string of mysterious deaths in the city, Raven begins to pick his way through the dark motives and powerful alliances that are concealing the truth. But he can only succeed with the help of Simpson’s maid, Sarah Fisher, a sharp observer of the world and a woman determined to improve her station in life. And neither Raven nor Sarah are aware of how close to the heart of the danger they are.

The medical and scientific discoveries depicted in the novel are based on real events and characters.


Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. The pair have been married for 26 years. Brookmyre is the international best-selling and multi-award-winning author of twenty-one novels, including Black Widow, winner of both the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year.

Dr Marisa Haetzman MRCP FRCA MSc is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this novel was based.
Chris Brookmyre’s solo fiction continues to be published by Little, Brown Book Group.

Francis Bickmore, Canongate Publishing Director, says:

‘The Way of All Flesh is truly unique historical yarn, an alchemical marvel that meticulously mixes genres like medical tinctures, and feels like a major bestseller in the making. It’s a rattling good read, overflowing with attitude, atmosphere and fascinating medical insight. The personalities of the men – and women – in Edinburgh’s medical milieu the 1840s were unknown to me before. In Brookmyre and Haetzman’s talented hands they come alive, as do the fetid crannies and fearsome resilience of 19th century Edinburgh. The past becomes buzzingly present. Everyone at Canongate was united in their passion for Ambrose Parry and this will be a Super Lead title for Canongate’s Autumn 2018 list.’

Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman says:

‘We are utterly thrilled that Canongate will be publishing The Way of All Flesh. This is a novel steeped in Edinburgh’s social, cultural and medical history (scenes of which take place literally on the Canongate) and we know that their passion for seeing this world brought to life matches our own.’

Sophie Scard, United Agents says:

‘Fans of Chris Brookmyre will know how skilled he is at writing dark, funny, boldly inventive books which leave their readers utterly gripped. All of these qualities and more besides are present in this new and exciting collaboration. We couldn’t be more thrilled by the prospect of Ambrose Parry’s launch on an unsuspecting world.’

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