BOOK CLUB: Murder at the Dunwich Asylum

Click to rate this book!
[Total: 7 Average: 4.4]

Murder at The Dunwich Asylum by Karen Thurecht is a historical, crime, murder mystery set in 1884. It is a thrilling read that keeps you guessing until the end.

The book also gives you a clear picture of what life in an asylum in Australia was like in the 1880’s.
The Dunwich Benevolent Asylum was on Stradbroke Island, Queensland. It served as an institution for the poor, destitute, old, ill, alcoholic and insane.

On the morning of the annual visit by Justice Callahan to inspect the asylum, the body of an inmate is found hanging from a Morton Bay tree. It is Emily May Baker, the youngest female inmate. Superintendent Holloway declares it a case of suicide, and is desperate to finalise the paper work before Justice Callahan arrives. Unfortunately for Holloway, Dr Hamish Hart arrives with the Justice. Hamish has been given permission to remain for a week and write an article for the paper and report on the Asylum.

When Dr Hamish Hart views Emily’s body he declares that it is not suicide, but murder. As Hamish looks into Emily’s life on the Island, he finds that she is not the typical inmate of an asylum. He writes to his friend Rita, also a Dr, about Emily’s case and asks her to find out more about Emily’s life in Brisbane.
Rita is keen to get justice for Emily and gains permission to join Hamish and also report on the running of the asylum.

Emily’s lover is found hanging from the same tree. Is it suicide or is it murder?

Hamish discovers that the visiting Justice is only shown some of the wards. There are other areas of the asylum where inmates are kept in horrific conditions. Hamish is amazed that the superintendent is not required to have medical knowledge.

His investigation and reports are making him unpopular, as some staff would lose their jobs if reforms are made.

There is tension between the white inmates of the asylum and the Aboriginal community of Myora, which is situated nearby. A number of Aboriginal people are employed at the asylum.

As Hamish and Rita uncover the asylum’s dark secrets, and are getting closer to the truth, their lives are also in danger. Will they solve this mystery and both get off the Island alive?

The Dunwich Benevolent Asylum was operational from 1865 to 1946. The setting for this story is real, the characters are fictional.

The author Dr Karen Thurecht has a PhD in medical anthropology. The characters of Hamish and Rita are so likable. The medical situations are well researched and realistic.

This book is the first in “The Dr Hamish Hart Mysteries” series. I loved this book and can’t wait to read the next book in the series, “Plantation Murders”. Who knows, maybe this will be a TV series one day!

Thankyou to Shawline Publishing Group and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this great book.

ISBN: 1922444308
Copy Courtesy of Shawline Publishing Group

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Murder at the Dunwich Asylum by Karen ThurechtYou can read their comments below, or add your own review.

20 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Murder at the Dunwich Asylum

  1. My first book by Karen Thurecht and I as not disappointed.
    Hamish Hart is a very smart man and without him i dont think anyone would have known what was happening at the Dunwich asylum and this book kept me on my toes.
    I love the relationship that Hamish and Rita have.

    Thankyou to Beauty and Lace, Shawline Publishing and Karen for the opportunity to read and review this amazing book

  2. Murder at the Dunwich Asylum is a really interesting read with the fictional story occurring in a historical place.

    I really liked the detail that went into the story and it was obvious that the author, Karen Thurect, had some a great deal of research.

    The conditions described were horrendous, but for the time, it appears they were not unexpected. These details added realism and purpose to the story.

    The murder that Dr Hamish Hart investigates and ultimately solves, is well told with atmosphere and environment building up the story. The author told the story in a way that unfolded well and was unrushed in its telling.

    This is another great Dr Hamish Hart story, and I think may have been the first in the series.

  3. Hamish, a medical doctor, travels to Dunwich Asylum to review the management of the residents, specifically relating to their medical care and well being. He travels there with the Superintendent at his routine visit, unbeknownst to the manager of the asylum Holloway. His presence is not entirely welcomed, more seen as a challenge of Holloway’s ability to manage his domain.
    Emily is found hanging from a tree along a well trodden path. Wallace, the asylum cook, came across her on his way in to work. Suicide is presumed, tragic as it may be. However when Hamish inspects the body it has a different tale to tell. There is a second line around the neck in the bruising separate to that the rope would make, and she is with child.
    Being as this is in the 1800s the resources for scientific discovery and autopsy are limited, however Hamish believes whole heartedly that this was murder, not suicide.
    A good book that draws you in with diverse characters and intrigue. Thank you to Beauty & Lace for the chance to read and Karen Thurecht for providing an escape in time to a place of mystery and intrigue. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *