Speakers of the Dead : A Walt Whitman Mystery
Overview - Lambda Award Winner Speakers of the Dead is a mystery novel centering around the investigative exploits of a young Walt Whitman, in which the reporter-cum-poet navigates the seedy underbelly of New York City's body-snatching industry in an attempt to exonerate his friend of a wrongful murder charge. Read more...
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More About Speakers of the Dead by J. Aaron Sanders
Lambda Award Winner
Speakers of the Dead is a mystery novel centering around the investigative exploits of a young Walt Whitman, in which the reporter-cum-poet navigates the seedy underbelly of New York City's body-snatching industry in an attempt to exonerate his friend of a wrongful murder charge.
The year is 1843; the place: New York City. Aurora
reporter Walt Whitman arrives at the Tombs prison yard where his friend Lena Stowe is scheduled to hang for the murder of her husband, Abraham. Walt intends to present evidence on Lena's behalf, but Sheriff Harris turns him away. Lena drops to her death, and Walt vows to posthumously exonerate her.
Walt's estranged boyfriend, Henry Saunders, returns to New York, and the two men uncover a link between body-snatching and Abraham's murder: a man named Samuel Clement. To get to Clement, Walt and Henry descend into a dangerous underworld where resurrection men steal the bodies of the recently deceased and sell them to medical colleges. With no legal means to acquire cadavers, medical students rely on these criminals, and Abraham's involvement with the Bone Bill--legislation that would put the resurrection men out of business--seems to have led to his and Lena's deaths.
Fast-paced and gripping, Speakers of the Dead
is a vibrant reimagining of one of America's most beloved literary figures.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
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Early in Sanderss gripping first novel, set in New York City in 1843, Walt Whitman, a 23-year-old reporter, tries but fails to rescue a friend of his, Lena Stowe, from the hangman at the Tombs, the city jail. Lena is executed for the murder of her husband, Abraham, with whom she cofounded a womens medical college. In his subsequent quest to prove Lenas innocence, Walt tangles with a pair of tough grave diggers and a powerful real-life Tammany Hall boss, Isaiah Rynders. Lending a hand is Edgar Allan Poe, who has recently serialized a story in a magazine thats a thinly fictionalized account of the Mary Rogers murder case, in which Abraham was involved. Meanwhile, Henry Saunders, Walts lover, stakes out a cemetery. The author addresses the then-controversial issue of anatomical dissection and imbues all his characters, even the villains, with humanity. Fans of Daniel Stashowers account of the Mary Rogers case, The Beautiful Cigar Girl, wont want to miss this auspicious debut. Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary Management. (Mar.)