An audience of more than 320 live viewers from the UK and overseas engaged with our successful and well-received ‘UWS in Conversation with Ambrose Parry’ virtual event on Sunday 21 February, delivered in partnership with the Paisley Book Festival 2021.
University of the West of Scotland's Criminology Professor, Ross Deuchar, facilitated an insightful conversation with Scottish married co-authors Chris Brookmyre and Dr Marisa Haetzman (aka Ambrose Parry) about their award-shortlisted historical medical crime novels series - set in Victorian Edinburgh with the discovery of anaesthesia in its infancy. With the Festival’s theme of ‘Radical New Futures’, comparisons were of course drawn between this 1840’s medical innovation and society’s reliance upon it, with the current vaccine innovation developed to fight the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Chris Brookmyre is an international bestselling and multi-award-winning author, who’s twenty-fifth solo book ‘The Cut’ is published in early March. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist with twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which their Ambrose Parry novels are based. Marisa and Chris successfully join forces under the Ambrose Parry pseudonym in creating an exciting series of historical crime novels set in Victorian Edinburgh, featuring a fictional dynamic detecting duo - Will Raven and Sarah Fisher.
Although their collaborative novels are a work of fiction, many of the characters and incidents depicted are based upon real events, people and innovations. Dr James Young Simpson was the Professor of Midwifery at Edinburgh University from 1840-1870, and with his colleagues, George Keith and James Matthews Duncan, he discovered the anaesthetic properties of Chloroform in 1847. Dr Simpson then went on to champion its use in midwifery, arguing against objections raised both in medicine and by the clergy. The first photography studio in Scotland also features, where Hill & Adamson produced around 3000 photographic images from 1843-1848.
Chris and Marisa’s first two collaborations ‘The Way of All Flesh’ and ‘The Art of Dying’ were both McIlvanney Prize shortlisted. With medical innovation currently a hot topic globally due to the pandemic, and their anticipated co-authored third book ‘A Corruption of Blood’ being published in August, their fascinating discussion at our UWS Paisley Book Festival event covered a range of historical, economic and social issues - from the role of women in innovating photography and medicine in Victorian times, to the risks involved in the invention of anaesthesia to both the researchers and their householders alike!
It was an absolute honour and a privilege for me to host this event at the Paisley Book Festival and to have the opportunity to be in conversation with Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman, collectively known as 'Ambrose Parry'. As a Criminologist, I was particularly interested in the portrayal of the villains within their books and it was excellent to be able to have a very energetic discussion with Chris and Marisa about the links between adverse childhood experiences and later criminal offending and about the moral codes that offenders often uphold. This created a fascinating conversation.
Event host and UWS Criminologist, Professor Ross Deuchar.
Our UWS PBF2021 event with Ambrose Parry can be viewed on demand on the Festival’s Youtube channel until 26 March here.