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The Grave Robber's Secret    by Anna Myers order for
Grave Robber's Secret
by Anna Myers
Order:  USA  Can
Walker, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This dark novel features two young people whose fathers are engaged in some pretty terrible activities. Robby Hare's father is a grave robber and he insists that his 12-year-old son accompany him on his nocturnal explorations to resurrect corpses which he then sells to the local medical college.

When the Hares take in a new boarder, William Burke, and his daughter Martha, Robby has someone his own age to hang out with. Unfortunately, his father also finds a new partner in crime. From cheating at cards the two men move on to something more sinister. They forego the trips to the graveyard Hare was making to make a little extra money by providing the school with very fresh bodies. The two men kill people and then sell their remains.

When Robby and Martha realize what their fathers are up to, they face a thorny dilemma. The youngsters must do something to stop the carnage and if it means going to the authorities, so be it!

Set, ironically it would seem, in Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love, this is a curious novel because as much as she deplores the behavior of the murderous adults, the author is sympathetic to the need for bodies to advance medical science. Eventually Robby is taken under the wing of a teacher at the medical college and the suggestion is that someday he will attend the school, dissect corpses as the other students do and become a doctor.

In the Author's Note at the story's conclusion, Myers explains that the true story of the infamous pair of killers in Scotland (Burke and Hare) provided the inspiration for this tale.

Although not a book for all younger readers, The Grave Robber's Secret is a captivating read and would be a suitable title for a mature youngster provided that there was some discussion ahead of time about why there were grave robbers and why the medical profession utilized their services. Even though the suggested reading age for this book is eight years of age and up, I don't recommend this title for anyone younger than ten or eleven years of age.

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