The Beauty Doctor | A Bone-Chilling Edwardian Mystery by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard
Audiobook narrator: Lisa Bozek

A Bone-Chilling Mystery-Suspense-Thriller Set in the Edwardian Era
Finalist, Eric Hoffer Book Award
“Beauty is power,” Dr. Rome told her. “And with enough power, one can achieve anything.”
Straightening noses, trimming eyelids, lifting jowls . . . In the year 1907, his revolutionary beauty surgery is considered daring, perhaps dangerous. Still, women want what Dr. Rome promises. Neither is his young assistant Abigail Platford immune to Dr. Rome’s persuasive charm.
Abigail once dreamed of becoming a doctor, though of a much different sort. That dream ended with her father’s tragic death from a medical error for which she holds herself responsible. Dr. Rome, who proudly displays his medical degree from Johns Hopkins, seems to believe in her. If he were willing to act as her mentor, might there still be a chance to realize her dream of someday becoming a doctor serving New York City’s poor?
But something feels terribly wrong, as though an insidious evil is closing in. Broken promises, lies, and intrigues abound. The powerful are threatening to destroy the weak, and a doctor’s sacred duty hangs in the balance. Abigail no longer knows who to believe; but with Dr. Rome now her mentor and her lover, she desperately wants to trust him.
Even when she discovers that one of their patients has mysteriously disappeared.
From bestselling author Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard, a suspenseful work of historical fiction grounded in the social and moral issues of the Edwardian era in America. Second Edition with Author’s Preface.
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Enjoy an Excerpt:
Dispensing with any semblance of ceremony, Dr. Rome ripped away the sheet covering the body. There was no way for Abigail to avoid looking at her, a slender young woman likely only a little older than she was, naked and clearly dead. There was a fresh cut on her abdomen, from the navel down. Abigail knew enough to recognize an incision for a Cesarean section.
“What happened?” she asked, her voice a whisper.
“Complications of pregnancy. They don’t all make it, you know.”
“And the baby?”
“I wouldn’t have any idea.”
She raised the back of her hand to her forehead and closed her eyes. She was loath to admit it, but she felt faint. “Why is she here?”
“Because you once complained that you hadn’t spent hours on end studying Gray’s Anatomy for nothing. But the fact is, you can’t learn anatomy from a book. Tonight you will have a proper lesson.”
He really had done this for her! But did that change how she felt?
“Dr. Rome—I don’t know what to say. I appreciate it greatly, but—”
“You’re not pleased?”
“I need to know … where did she come from?” Abigail recalled what she’d read once about anatomists in earlier times who would buy corpses from professional body snatchers. There were even those who engaged in anatomy murder to get the fresh cadavers medical students used for their dissections. Of course, Shark had not murdered anyone …
“Good God, what’s wrong with you? Where’s your curiosity? Your guts? She was on her way to the potter’s field on Hart Island. Far better she should contribute to science.”
Abigail dared to gaze down on the young woman’s face. Her eyelids were closed in repose; her long, dark hair cascaded softly over her shoulders. She was only slightly blue, her body not yet stiff. The odor emanating from her was not unpleasant, almost like a sweetly pungent flower. She could not have been dead for long. Dr. Rome rubbed his palms together, in that voracious manner of his. “Now, let’s consider this woman’s lips, which are rather thin,” he said, seeming to have moved on from his momentary irritation. “In a few minutes, I’ll show you how to make them voluptuous. We’ll also raise the angle of the mouth, just to give her a pleasant expression. I’ll let you inject some paraffin all by yourself. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? As for the nose, you’ve seen how I remove a hump. This time, we’re going to elevate the tip—even though she has a perfect nose as it is.” He ran a finger down the bridge. “A shame, really. She wasn’t at all bad looking.” He brushed his hand along her neck. “There’s something else I want to try—a way to lift the neck through incisions inside the mouth. I’ve read about it. Novel, but apparently there are some problems. We’ll see. You need to understand that operating on a corpse isn’t quite the same as working with living tissue, but often we need to make do.”
She was trying to listen, to focus on what he was saying, but all she could think of was the poor woman laid out on the table. Did she have a family somewhere? Was there a man who loved her? And her baby—what had happened to it? She wondered if the young mother had even known whether her child lived or died.
“Miss Platford!” Dr. Rome had paused his lecture long enough to notice she was not paying attention. “I hope you realize that our time is limited. A fresh cadaver, especially one as nice as this, is a precious thing.”
Abigail pulled her eyes away from the woman’s ripped abdomen. “It’s sad. She’s so young.”
He sighed, coming over to her and laying his hands on her shoulders. “You’ve never seen death before?”
An image of her father’s face, devoid of life, flashed before her eyes. She mustn’t think about it now, not when Dr. Rome expected her to act like any ambitious student should: eager to take the knife, to make the first cut.
He gave her an encouraging pat on the arm and took a step back. “I suggest you ready yourself, and we’ll get started.”

Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is the author of bestselling historical novels. Her 2023 release, Sisters of Castle Leod, is an Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller (Historical Biographical Fiction, Historical Literary Fiction), winner of the 2023 Maxy Award for Historical and Adventure Fiction, and an Editors’ Choice of the Historical Novel Society. Her biographical novel Temptation Rag (2018) was hailed by Publishers Weekly as a “resonant novel . . . about the birth and demise of ragtime . . . in which romance and creative passions abound.” Elizabeth’s 2017 historical mystery-suspense-thriller, The Beauty Doctor, was a finalist for the prestigious Eric Hoffer Book Award. The book’s re-release (Jan. 4, 2024) features a stunning new cover and an Author Preface with insights into social and moral issues of the Edwardian era that frame this shocking fictional story set in the early days of cosmetic surgery. Before becoming a full-time author, Elizabeth was executive editor of an international aesthetic surgery journal, and senior consultant to the National Cosmetic Network in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University’s plastic surgery educational program. Learn more about Elizabeth and her books at
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