A suspenseful tale, occasionally dipping into the truly gruesome, with intriguing storyline…
Gioconda weaves a historical tale about Ben Franklin’s life in London and the sinister origins of modern medicine in this wildly original blend of historical fiction and true crime reporting. Benjamin Franklin arrives in London as Pennsylvania’s colonial agent to the Crown and forms a close bond with Polly. Polly soon marries William Hewson, an ambitious anatomist, who dreams of running his own anatomy school. While working with Dr. John and Dr. William Hunter in their anatomy school, he learns of the unsavory ways the brothers use to procure dead bodies. Will Hewson report them or will his ambition get in the way? Told in multiple viewpoints in the form of Journal entries, correspondence, and genuine news clippings, the book unravels a horrific and frightening spree of kidnappings and body-snatching occurring in London during the 1760s. Gioconda richly describes the London setting, capturing the crime-ridden city streets, the depravity of the individuals procuring the bodies, their greed, and how all of it is stifling to Hewson who chooses to ignore it and pursue his dream of starting his own school. In addition to revealing the disturbing story of the origins of modern medicine, Gioconda also delves into struggles of independent, strong-willed women, particularly Polly, in a misogynist historical period, celebrating her resilience and grit. The book closes with a note on how Ben Franklin was certainly aware of the existence of Hewson’s anatomy school and would probably have been aware of Hewson’s (and the Hunters’) unsavory activities in acquiring and disposing of human corpses. Fans of historical true crime stories ought to take a look.
Based on the True Story of 28 Bodies Buried in Benjamin Franklin’s Basement
Joseph C. Gioconda
Pub date March 30, 2023
Price $12.99 (USD) Paperback, $0.00 Kindle edition