Norris Marshall is training to be a doctor in 1830's Boston. He has resorted to helping steal bodies from local graveyards (most go to the medical school) to help pay for his education. Then a nurse is murdered on hospital grounds and he is the prime suspect. Norris' story is paired with that of Julia Hamill, who has just bought a home in present-era suburban Boston. She finds a skeleton in her backyard which is determined to be from before 1840. Julia's research into the bones leads the reader into Norris' tale. We also meet his medical colleagues (including Oliver Wendell Holmes) and a poor woman named Rose, who, along with Holmes, tried to help Norris solve the nurse's murder (and others). Gerritsen spares none of the gruesome details of life for the poor in Boston or the deaths that resulted from misguided medical care (surgeons did not wash their hands). While part of the story is set in contemporary times, most of the book is historical, which might disappoint some fans of Gerritsen's novels.