Resurrectionist by Matthew Guinn (W.W. Norton, July 8, 2013)
Dr. Jacob Thacker is on probation for abusing Xanax and is working in public relations for the dean at South Carolina State Medical College until he is deemed ready to return to practicing medicine. When renovations begin on campus, a burial ground of bones estimated to be a century old are uncovered taking Jacob and his colleagues on a journey into a darker part of the colleges history and taking Jacob on a journey of self-discovery that will help shape his future. A founder of the school, Dr. Frederick Augustus Johnston purchased a slave, Nemo, who was especially skilled with a knife. Nemo was an unofficial member of the faculty and a resurrenctionist, who was responsible for finding bodies on which the students could practice. The further Jacob delves into Nemo’s story, the more he realizes that he must make decisions that will not be popular with the school, possibly costing the school funding and costing Jacob, perhaps his livelihood. Told in alternating chapters between Jacob’s present day story and Nemo’s story in nineteenth-century South Carolina, Matthew Guinn depicts two memorable characters with a subtle narrative and strong sense of place. Readers watch as Jacob is transformed from a self-absorbed young man into someone with a curiosity about his past & that of his school’s and into someone willing to stand up for what he knows is right. This is a beautifully and subtly written debut novel.