The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh is a page-turning tale of murder, subversion, and vice in which a female medical student in Victorian Edinburgh is drawn into a murder investigation when she recognizes one of the corpses in her anatomy lecture.
A prostitute is murdered in late-nineteenth-century Edinburgh, and no one cares. The early demise of a woman of ill repute is of no concern to the Scottish capital’s society, high or low. No one, that is, apart from Miss Sarah Gilchrist, who is studying at the University of Edinburgh’s medical school.
The year is 1882, and it’s the first time women have been allowed admission to the school. Sarah is studying to be a doctor despite stern opposition from her family, the establishment, and society in general. This is a time when women are deemed inferior to men, and the behavior of men—in public and private—reflects this in many different ways. Brothels, where fallen women ply their trade, are sneered at and whispered about, yet the veil of double standards—which knows no bounds—is thrown over these establishments so members of the higher echelons of society can avail themselves of the wares, safe from people they consider nosy liberals or those with prying eyes.