Not the Deaths Imagined, by author Anne Pettigrew, is a gripping medical mystery novel. The follow up to Not the Life Imagined, the story follows Dr. Beth Semple as she notices a series of strange deaths that all seem to be connected to one doctor. While juggling her job and responsibilities as a mother of two teenage girls, Beth can’t get these oddities out of her mind. Despite her reputation being challenged, harassment, tension at work, and threats, Beth is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The story is made up of an intricate weaving of voices, allowing the reader not only into the mind of Beth Semple but also her friends, family, colleagues, and even those connected to the string of crimes. Because the book is written from so many different perspectives, the reader knows more about what is going on than any single character. While this at first made me nervous that knowing too much would leave me bored at times, Pettigrew did a wonderful job navigating this, making sure each character’s arc is captivating and there are always many more mysteries for the reader to question. This made it so I never felt I was waiting at the finish line for the characters to realize the answers but instead had me trying to solve the puzzles and anxiously waiting for the next clue.
I enjoyed the expanse of Beth’s world in this novel. Her family, friends, and connections all felt like real people existing and having lives outside of the pages that described them. I liked the variety in the characters that Pettigrew created, giving each a distinct voice that felt fresh whenever the perspective changed. I felt very connected to Beth throughout the book as we see her not only tackle the mysterious deaths, but also how to be a mom to teenagers, dealing with patients, and staying connected to friends through good and bad times. Though I do not think it is necessary to read the first book in the series to enjoy Not the Deaths Imagined, as Pettigrew does a wonderful job of subtly giving you all the information required to be able to jump right into the story of this book. I was so engaged with the different characters and the deep relationships built between them that I will be going back to read the first book so that I can spend more time with Beth and her friends.
As a medical crime mystery, I was impressed by the level of detail that made the story fit into reality. I was not surprised to learn that Pettigrew was herself a GP for 31 years as well as a medical journalist. I was also enchanted with Pettigrew’s description of place. Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Scottish life are richly brought to life. While I have been to many of the places described in the novel, even if you have not, the description of the streets, buildings, and general atmosphere of the cities was incredibly well done and made each seen easy to visualize.
The attention to detail, delightful and deep characters, and the thrilling plot make this book a delightful and engaging read. If you are a fan of medical noir, I would definitely recommend this book. It is a refreshing and intriguing story that makes for a captivating read. I look forward to seeing more from Pettigrew in the future. I would give this book 4.5 stars.
I received an ARC copy of this book .