Murder from the past to feature in Festival of the Future

Ambrose Parry, the hot new name in historical fiction – AKA anaesthetist/medical historian Marisa Haetzman and bestselling author Chris Brookmyre – will appear at the University of Dundee’s inaugural Festival of the Future this month.

The husband-and-wife team will reveal how they underpinned historical mystery with hard facts as well as giving an insight into their new writing partnership at Bonar Hall on Sunday 21 October.

Chris is the multi-award-winning author of 21 novels while Marisa is a consultant anaesthetist with 20 years’ experience and a Master’s degree in the History of Medicine.

‘The Way of All Flesh’, the first book written under the Ambrose Parry pseudonym, was released in August and is inspired by James Simpson, the Edinburgh physician who discovered the anaesthetic qualities of chloroform in the 1840s. Benedict Cumberbatch’s production company SunnyMarch bought the rights to Parry’s books last year and scripts are currently being developed for Sky Atlantic.

Medicine, murder and money blur the lines between class and gender in the book. The story has its roots in the dissertation Marisa wrote as part of an MSc in the history of science and evolved into a murder-mystery in which Will Raven, Simpson’s fictional apprentice, and housemaid Sarah Fisher join forces to discover who is responsible for the deaths of several young women across the city.

“Simpson was an intriguing character who mixed with all strata of Edinburgh society, ministering to the poor as well as the aristocracy,” explained Marisa. “He lived in an unusual household where he saw patients every morning, made time to play with his children and held dinner parties where guests were encouraged to inhale anaesthetic vapours for pleasure. It seemed very far removed from the austere formality normally associated with the Victorian middle classes and we thought that it would make an interesting setting for a novel.”

The Ambrose Parry event will be Chris’ second appearance at this year’s Festival of the Future. He will join science fiction writer Ken McLeod at Bonar Hall on Wednesday 17 October to discuss the moral dilemmas raised by the growth of artificial intelligence.

Chris said, “I’m looking forward to bringing two distinct perspectives to the festival – from the murky gloom of Victorian Edinburgh to the darkness of space. Both stories look at how emerging technologies have changed us and, just as importantly, how they have not.”

Festival of the Future takes place from October 17-21 and will celebrate how collaboration across the scientific and creative spheres are helping to address the biggest issues of our times, from the local to the global level.

Each day features workshops aimed at children, young people and adults, debates with academics and external speakers and high-profile events featuring prestigious figures from the worlds of science and culture. Dance, theatre, music and comedy performances will also take place and a series of ‘supper clubs’ will bring members of the public into areas of the University usually behind closed doors.

More information about Festival of the Future can be found at

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