Tooth and Claw
(Pantheon)In the first hundred pages of this one, a young and beautiful television news reporter gets tied up in her bed and has her arm flayed until she passes out and dies. The butchery is described exactly, with careful attention to detail.
Then we go to the coroner's office, where the autopsy of her body is shown in exquisite detail. How they open the chest, how they pull down the skin of her face, how they saw open the skull, how tiny her brain, etc., etc.
Meanwhile, we are told that the investigating detective Mark Lapslie suffers from synæsthesia --- every sound he hears gets transformed into a taste. In the railroad station, the noise of a passing train makes him vomit. The act of barfing (and the barf itself) are described to a fare-thee-well.
Lapslie goes to Braintree to investigate a man who got blown up in the train station. What is left of the exploded commuter is revealed in minute detail,
Everything from the knees up was burned, blasted, and blistered. The skin was crisped in places, and some of the body fat on the chest and arms had melted, slowed and then solidified again in yellow rivulets, like candle wax.
I apologize. That's as far as I got. I figure if I want to get more details about the hacking and sawing and blistering and cutting away of human tissue I could always go back to medical school (and flunk out again). Or turn on the Operation, Flay and Dissection Channel --- there has to be one) --- on the internet, get a belly-full.
Oh, I forgot. There are a couple of merry moments. One is where our synæsthesia-challenged detective is hearing a car horn. Tastes like "the sudden stab of salmon and carmel."
This may be the most delicious moment in Tooth and Claw. Then, another taste-treat: during the autopsy, as the coroner pulls the scalp down "like a flap to cover the face from brow to lips with a raw mask of flesh"
and the crunch of gristle and flesh separating made Lapsile's mouth tingle like sparkling wine. Not champagne ... o no: but something sweeter, like Asti Spumante.
I have to tell you that when Lapsile was on his knees, retching, I thought there for a minute that I might have to join him.--- Lynn Priestly