21 April 2013

Review: What Lies Beneath by Sarah Rayne

What Lies Beneath by Sarah Rayne book cover
I've been reading thriller novels from author Sarah Rayne for years now and really enjoy her writing style.*

I'm pleased to say that she's getting even better over time, and I thoroughly enjoyed What Lies Beneath, published in 2011.

Essentially the novel is about a town which is going to be cleared to build a highway, but before it is, the government decides to use it for testing.  Unfortunately the tests leave the area poisoned and it's locked up and out of bounds for decades.
Characters in the past are linked to characters in the present and both have something to hide and something to discover.

I especially enjoyed the section where one of the characters in the past was being treated for Syphilis using the methods and treatments available in 1912.  I found it completely and utterly fascinating, as one of the treatments included an infusion box where the patient has their body seated and fully enclosed in a box with just their head exposed.  A mercury solution is heated underneath the box which turns to vapour the patient inhales during the process which takes several hours.

Apparently the treatment was incredibly painful and exhausting as the fumes were being absorbed into the skin as well as the lungs, and Rayne's description of the process had me gripping the book and shaking my head in disbelief that this was occurring a mere 100 years ago.

I almost wanted to get up and go and research this illness, era and treatments and find out more.  It just seemed so surreal; who would come up with such a therapy and how could they possibly believe it would work? I was thinking about it long finishing the book, and for this What Lies Beneath earns an additional star.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

* For more books by popular UK author Sarah Rayne, check out my reviews of the following:

The Death Chamber - 4 stars
Tower of Silence - 4 stars
Spider Light - 4 stars
A Dark Dividing - 3.5 stars
House of the Lost - 4 stars

Would you like to comment?

  1. I am definitely going to read this book now. Great review, Tracey!

  2. Great to hear, thanks! Would love to know what you thought of the mercury treatment (and the rest of the book of course).

  3. Mercury? Perhaps they believed the longevity idea of it. I wonder how long those who got treated lived for and if that was always still assumed to be from the Syphilis. Sounds gruesome but educational.

  4. Hi Charlie, I agree, it would be fascinating to know! Glad we don't have to endure such painful and gruesome treatments for anything these days... although I wonder if we will view chemotherapy like this in a few years.


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!