Dr. Keith McCarthy’s John Eisenmenger Series

Keith_McCarthyAbout the author:

Born: Croydon, Surrey, England 1960

Education: MBBS Medicine –Dulwich College/St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London, United Kingdom

Website: http://keithmccarthy.co.uk/

Publisher: Severn House Publishers

Thriller Sub-genre: Forensic Thriller

Future of the series: The most recent book in the series entitled To Mourn A Mischief was recently released on 1/3/19.

My Review of A Kiss Before Killing

The Simon Review
I have one word for Keith McCarthy’s John Eisenmenger series and that word is ‘INTENSE’. Everything, from the murders, the characters, the scenery, and the sex are all incredibly, dark, graphic and intense. However, if you can get past the extremity of the series, the stories are very compelling and incredibly intriguing. The characters are complex and McCarthy does a fantastic job of character development throughout the series.

The main protagonist, John Eisenmenger, is a dark figure whose insatiable curiosity as a scientist trumps out his more human vulnerabilities. He tries desperately to leave behind his profession as a forensic pathologist after witnessing a tragic murder of a young child, however, fate and curiosity keeps driving him back to a profession for which he possesses a natural skill for solving murders. Eisenmenger’s detachment from the horrors of the cases he works on invariably have a huge impact on his love life. I would say that John Eisenmenger has some of the worst luck when it comes to dealing with individuals of the opposite sex.

Eisenmenger is married in the beginning of the series but his wife goes psycho on him and leaves the series quite dramatically. Eisenmenger’s distraught over the end of his marriage drives him into the arms of Helena Flemming, a defense lawyer that has a soft spot for the most vulnerable of society. Flemming has her own haunts and it seems that she and Eisenmenger, in their mutual depressive cloud, make a great pairing, however, all is not paradise for these two lovebirds and Flemming also leaves the series in a dramatic exit. And then there is Beverley Wharton…..

I am totally intrigued by the character Beverley Wharton. Wharton is a beautiful police officer that uses her stunning looks to get ahead, if you know what I mean winking.  She plays a totally antagonistic character in the first novel and by the end of the novel, it seems that her character is pretty much a goner. But Wharton is no quitter, in fact, Wharton is the only character other than Eisenmenger that remains throughout the series. Wharton is a truly despicable character in the beginning of the series but as the series progresses the reader gets a clearer insight to what makes Wharton tick. Under the conniving and shameless exterior of her persona is a woman that feels very vulnerable and alone. To add another twist to her character is her attraction and feelings toward John Eisenmenger. Eisenmenger seems to be one of the few men that can keep the lusty siren at arm’s length and yet is very much attracted to her. As the old saying goes, the more unattainable the more attractive, this is certainly the case for Beverley Wharton and her relationship with Eisenmenger.

If you are a bit timid on graphic violence and sexuality, then this series won’t be for you. Additionally, for us ‘American’ readers, it takes a bit to get use to McCarthy’s use of English vernacular. It took me a little bit to realize that solicitor is a lawyer, not someone that sells magazines door to door. The forensics is superb and the stories spellbinding. I most certainly recommend this series. My only gripe would be using the name Eisenmenger for the main protagonist, a simple name would have sufficed.

The series should definitely be read in order.

Simon’s pick:
Most Favorite Novel in the Series- The Silent Sleep of the Dying- because I used to work in the area of virology, so this novel caught my attention.

Least Favorite Novel in the Series-The Soul Seeker- there is one scene in the novel where a victim is slowly being electrocuted to death that is very disturbing and I almost stop reading it at this point. However, I did move on to finish and highly enjoyed the ending.

What about the science?
Besides being a top notch writer, McCarthy is also a medical doctor who specializes in histopathology, which means he is the fellow that actually does the autopsies. Since he is a doer and not a watcher, he can give details unlike most of the authors who write forensic thrillers, which means he can be pretty graphic. I was actually able to learn of few things from reading his novels and I hope you do too. Thanks Keith!

The John Eisenmenger Technical Word in Review: Anti-oncogene, also known as a tumor repressive gene is a category of genes that prevent a cell from becoming cancerous. The genes work by either suppressing regulations on the cell growth cycle or by initiating apoptosis (cell death). A double mutation of one these genes could result in development of cancer.

“Cancer is not just a process of things going wrong. There are mechanisms that act in the cell to put things right. Thus there are genes that code for proteins that repair other, damaged genes. There are also genes that act as ‘cellular policeman’.  If a cell goes badly wrong, they force the cell to commit suicide.”

“But think about it. If for some reason those genes don’t do their job, that will tend to lead to cancer as well. These genes are the anti-oncogenes because they’re absence or lack of function also tends to lead to cancer.”

“Ideally, if you are designing a cancer-causing virus, you want some way to get rid of the anti-oncogenes.”

“You think they managed it?”

“They had a tutor from nature. Human Papilloma Virus- HPVs – cause lots of trouble for humans, from warts to cancer. The ones that cause cancer do so by mopping up anti-oncogenes with their own protein ‘sponge’. I suppose Proteus virus has a similar mechanism.” –Silent Sleep of the Dying

Books in the Series by Order:

Vote for your favorite Forensic Thriller on the Forensic Fiction List on Goodreads Listopia.

Goodreads Forensic Fiction Best List

For the time being I am not going to list the most and least popular book of the series because the total number of ratings in Goodreads, Amazon, and Library Thing add up to less than 100 which means statistically they don’t really have any meaning. So read the books and give a rating.

#1-Feast of Carrion- 2003

First Line:

He could have turned on the light, but he knew that there was a mirror in that cold, bleak place and it would have been too much to see himself and thereby know who he was and what he was doing.


John Eisenmenger: A reluctant forensic pathologist who tries to leave his profession but keeps being drawn back either through curiosity or fate.

Helena Flemming: A young defense lawyer with a haunted past. Her brother in imprisoned for the murder of both of her parents and her brother commits suicide in prison before she could prove his innocence.

Beverley Wharton: A highly attractive and ambitious policewoman who uses her sexuality to get what she wants.

The Setting


St Benjamin’s Medical School is the greatest of its kind, any death occurring within its walls would have created ripples within the academic world, but the death of Nikki Exner is far from being ordinary. Raped, and then grotesquely executed, her theatrical murder horrifies everyone.

John Eisenmenger, a former forensic pathologist, finds himself dragged unwillingly into the case. Teaming up with solicitor Helena Flemming, Eisenmenger sets out to discover what really did happen to Nikki Exner.

Eisenmenger and Flemming find there is much more at stake than uncovering the identity of a murderer: there are scores to be settled, demons to be exorcised, and, not least, vengeance to be had.

Looking for a review of Feast of Carrion?  Check out:

Murder Mayhem & More

Library Thing Rating: 3.81 out of 5 stars based on 9 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.76 out of 5 stars based on 133 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 4.29 out of 5 stars based on 14 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 4.37 out of 5 stars based on 11 ratings

Total Score 3.84 (updated 10/3/18)



Silent_Sleep_of_the_Dying#2-The Silent Sleep of the Dying- 2004

First Line:

The old man moved with increasing frailty around the house, feeling the cold more deeply, the damp more painfully.


John Eisenmenger, Helena Flemming, and Beverley Wharton

The Setting

England & Scotland

When Mark Hartmann is asked to perform an autopsy on a lab assistant killed by cancer, everything looks straightforward. But his initial findings are surprising – Milicent Sweet appears to have died of several different, aggressive tumors. Before he can discuss this with colleagues, he’s called to a conference in Scotland. A serious error of judgment gives a pharmaceutical company a handle on him, and they threaten to expose his excesses unless he falsifies his report on Sweet. Meanwhile, Millicent’s father is suspicious about her death and has contacted lawyer Helena Flemming. Her partner, former forensic pathologist John Eisenmenger, uncovers the original autopsy and deception, and is determined to unearth the reasons behind the pharmaceutical company’s actions.

Looking for a review of Silent Sleep of the Dying?  Check out:



Library Thing Rating: 3.50 out of 5 stars based on 6 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.77 out of 5 stars based on 106 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 4.11 out of 5 stars based on 17 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 4.29 out of 5 stars based on 18 ratings

Total Score 3.86 (updated 10/3/18)




final-analysis#3-The Final Analysis- 2005

First Line:

The letter dropped on to the coconut mat that proffered welcome, a promise not sustained by the house’s single occupant.


John Eisenmenger, Helena Flemming, and Beverley Wharton

The Setting


At first there were five identical murders, the bodies eviscerated and the organs playfully distributed around. Beverley Wharton had been sure that the guilty man was Melkior Pendred—an autistic and highly skilled mortuary assistant—but her colleague, Sergeant Homer, had always thought she had caught the wrong man and it was his twin, Martin, who was responsible. With Melkior dying in prison, a sixth, and apparently identical murder gives Homer—now a chief inspector—the perfect chance to settle a few scores. Martin Pendred is arrested but then released on a technicality after the intervention of his solicitor, Helena Flemming. Then he disappears. Another murder occurs and the hunt for Martin Pendred becomes intense. Beverly Wharton—fearing for her career if it is shown Melkior Pendred was innocent— calls on John Eisenmenger to help her. He had been the pathologist on the original murders and soon spots slight differences of technique between present and past murders. And when a fellow pathologist is murdered, Eisenmenger begins to guess what is going on. Then Helena disappears, kidnapped by Martin Pendred, and while Eisenmenger desperately searches for her he discovers the final piece of evidence that reveals just who is behind the latest murders.

From The Best Bad Reviews:

This a review of Keith McCarthy’s The Final Analysis by Kathy on Goodreads.  It is not a bad review, in fact the opposite, but it did make me laugh.

Oh Keith! Where have you been all my life!? I adore your writing, I adore ALL your characters, I adore everything about your books. They are smart, funny and have the twistiest plots I’ve ever heard of.

Marry me and I will give up all my affairs, including but not limited to Capt Von Trapp, Raylan Givens, Frank Langella, Jamie Frasier, Walt Longmire and that Sam guy) Okay, if it too soon for that, just let me watch your eyes glitter as you compose your stories. I even want to read the out-takes. I’ll bet you can make a grocery list dazzle.

Looking for a review of The Final Analysis?  Check out:

Kirkus Review


Library Thing Rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars based on 4 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.97 out of 5 stars based on 66 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 10 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 4.20 out of 5 stars based on 5 ratings

Total Score 3.93 (updated 10/3/18)




world-full-of-weeping#4-A World Full of Weeping- 2006

First Line:

There is no good way to die, but to burn to death is perhaps the worse.


John Eisenmenger, Helena Flemming, and Beverley Wharton

The Setting


An invitation to spend time with childhood friends — the Hickmans in their fairy-tale castle in a forest by the lake — seems the perfect rest cure for solicitor Helena Flemming after cancer treatment. But when a man is found burned to death in a car on the edge of the castle estate, the lives of the residents are bizarrely affected. Caught in the middle, Helena teams up with former forensic pathologist John Eisenmenger to try to figure out why. They soon learn that the castle harbors secrets damaging not only to the Hickmans but also to Helena herself.

Library Thing Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.15 out of 5 stars based on 40 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 4 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 4.50 out of 5 stars based on 2 ratings

Total Score 4.15 (updated 10/3/18)




Rest_is_Silence#5-The Rest is Silence- 2007

First Line:

The night was warm, too hot, the humidity abnormally high.


John Eisenmenger, Helena Flemming, and Beverley Wharton

The Setting


The routine forensic examination of a boy’s body washing up from a meandering river reveals that he has been murdered. Meanwhile, the investigation of a convicted pedophile in a nearby village leads to the discovery of five decaying bodies in his garden. Between them, Helena Flemming and John Eisenmenger uncover abuse far more grotesque than anyone might have imagined, and reveal the murky depths beneath the idyllic surface of village life.

Library Thing Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.95 out of 5 stars based on 59 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 4.67 out of 5 stars based on 6 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 5.00 out of 5 stars based on 6 ratings

Total Score 4.10 (updated 10/3/18)



With_a_Passion_Put_to_Use#6-With a Passion Put to Use- 2008

First Line:

Helena Flemming watched John Eisenmenger leave that morning with a crushing burden of melancholy, born of an unholy liaison between guilt and dread.


John Eisenmenger, Helena Flemming, and  Beverley Wharton

The Setting


Reluctantly, Eisenmenger takes a job as a locum in the pathology department of St Christopher’s Hospital as his partner Helena is pregnant and they must prepare financially for the baby’s arrival. John finds the prospect of being back on the treadmill, working within the NHS again, tedious, but when he is unwilling to accept his boss’s ‘death from natural causes’ diagnosis after autopsies on various bodies, his professional suspicions are piqued. He goes to his old friend DI Beverley Wharton with his concerns and when all paths seem to lead to Atopia, a private clinic for the treatment of allergies run by a Dr Adam Dreifus – whose wife has just been found dead – it seems that there is more to this than ‘death by natural causes’…

Looking for a review of With A Passion Put to Use?  Check out:

Kirkus Review

Library Thing Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 2 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.74 out of 5 stars based on 43 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 4 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 3.33 out of 5 stars based on 3 ratings

Total Score 3.75 (updated 10/3/18)




Corpus_Delicti#7-Corpus Delicti- 2009


John Eisenmenger, Helena Flemming,  and Beverley Wharton

The Setting


Eisenmengers relationship with Helena Flemming has deteriorated to the point that Helena wants it to end, leaving Eisenmenger devastated. In order to cope, he throws himself back into his work as a forensic pathologist and is immediately consumed by a disturbing discovery.

Looking for a review of Corpus Delicti?  Check out:

Kirkus Reviews

Library Thing Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.81 out of 5 stars based on 42 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 3.82 out of 5 stars based on 6 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 4 ratings

Total Score 3.83 (updated 10/3/18)




Soul_Seeker#8-Soul Seeker- 2010

First Line:

Dominic Trelawney coughed, the noise viscid, low and somehow threatening, as if he swallowed a swamp monster.


John Eisenmenger and Beverley Wharton

The Setting


The newly promoted Chief Inspector Beverley Wharton once more turns to forensic pathologist John Eisenmenger to help with the discovery of a severed male head in a local farmyard. When a headless – but female – body then turns up in a dustbin, they must acknowledge that this is the work of a serial killer. However, this killer seems to have scientific knowledge and a desire to experiment with his victims in his search for the human soul . . .

Looking for a review of Soul Seeker?  Check out:

Kirkus Reviews

Library Thing Rating: 3.00 out of 5 stars based on 2 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.72 out of 5 stars based on 32 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 3.00 out of 5 stars based on 2 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 5.00 out of 5 stars based on 3 ratings

Total Score 3.74 (updated 10/3/18)



Taste_of_Wormwood#9-A Taste of Wormwood- 2012

First Line:

It was a long crossing, but they always were.


John Eisenmenger and Beverley Wharton

The Setting


Arthur Meadows has just returned home from a trip to south-west Europe, supposedly bringing back a consignment of cloth, but actually bringing back something far more deadly. Meanwhile, a young Asian couple is murdered in their small house in Gloucester, the killings done with ruthless efficiency. Beverley Wharton, now Chief Inspector, does not relish the investigation of the murders: partly due to the choice of pathologist, Charles Sydenham. She would have preferred John Eisenmenger, but he has his own problems trying to work out why Arthur Meadows died so unexpectedly . . .

Looking for a review of A Taste of Wormwood?  Check out:

Kirkus Reviews


Library Thing Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.66 out of 5 stars based on 56 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 3.57 out of 5 stars based on 7 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 3.20 out of 5 stars based on 5 ratings

Total Score 3.62 (updated 10/3/18)


ankle bone


A_Furnace_Too_Hot#10-A Furnace Far Too Hot- 2016

My Review

Listed #99 out of 121 on Goodreads Best Forensic Fiction Book List

Listed #145 out of 168 on Goodreads Best Science Thriller Book List

First Line:

Audrey French, a divorcee aged forty-four years, lived in a small three-bedroom house.

Someone is always watching…

When policewoman Eva Perry goes deep undercover to help bring a vicious local crime ring to justice, both she and her boss – Chief Detective Inspector Beverley Wharton – know there are huge risks involved.

Perry has already been abused physically and mentally in order to maintain her disguise and she knows there is more to come.

Yet she insists on carrying on.

But neither she nor Beverley are prepared for the horrific chain of events that are unleashed.

A series of unexplained and bizarre suicides forces Beverley into close contact with her former lover, the renegade forensic pathologist John Eisenmenger, who is already investigating the sudden suicide of his colleague Daisy Pemberton.

Eisenmenger conducts autopsies on the victims and discovers all their deaths are linked by the earrings they wear – the same design but in different pairings of colours.

He attends an inquest where he is confronted by the sinister Harry Cade whose family members have been killed or mutilated in a blow-torch attack by one of the suicide women, and who is wearing the same earrings.

When he convinces Beverley to pursue the trail of the earrings they not only resume their old love affair, but also become enmeshed in a frightening web of mental manipulation that brings them to the edge of being the instruments of their own violent deaths.

Library Thing Rating: not rated

GoodReads Rating: 4.44 out of 5 stars based on 16 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 4.17 out of 5 stars based on 6 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 ratings

Total Score 4.35 (updated 10/3/18)



#11-A Kiss Before Killing- 2017

My Review

First Line:

No one knows, and no one will ever know, exactly when Edward Marsham’s death began, although the end was precisely timed.

Each man kills the thing he loves… 

Edward Marsham is admitted to the Royal Infirmary having hung himself in his prison cell. 

As predicted, he dies. 

In the wake of several unexpected deaths at the hospital, however, Dr. Claire Woodforde suspects there is a killer amongst the staff. As Detective Chief Inspector Beverley Wharton and her new sergeant Tom Bayes begin to investigate Marsham’s death, they too start to wonder if it was natural or whether someone… 

helped him along. 

But as they start to make headway on the case, something much more sinister comes to light. 

A body is found in an empty house. 

A body without its limbs. And head. 

Dr. John Eisenmenger is tasked with examining the torso to uncover clues which will lead to its identity and cause of death; a grisly job even for the most hardened of pathologists. 

But as the investigation unfolds, the team discovers that there is much, much worse to come, and in addition, there is growing suspicion that there is a link between the two cases. 

This not-for-the-faint-hearted crime thriller shines a light into the darkest recesses of the human soul. 

Looking for a review of A Kiss Before Killing?  Check out:

Judith Barrow

Anita Dawes and Jaye Marie


Library Thing Rating: not rated

GoodReads Rating: 3.50 out of 5 stars based on 32 ratings

Amazon-US Rating: 3.94 out of 5 stars based on 15 ratings

Amazon-UK Rating: 3.90 out of 5 stars based on 10 ratings

Total Score 3.68 (updated 10/3/18)

#12-To Mourn A Mischief- 2019

First Line:

Sasha eyed her father.

The grisly death of a young girl resurfaces after twenty-two years. The coroner’s open verdict comes under scrutiny…

Sasha Grove-Williams hated her wealthy father’s dubious business affairs – and ended up dead on a railway track. But did she jump or was she pushed? That’s the burning question for Chief Inspector Beverley Wharton when a raving answerphone message from the now dementia-suffering coroner of the day falls into her hands.

She and her pathologist lover Dr John Eisenmenger – an expert in forensics – are immediately plunged into a messy world of corruption and violence that seems to envelop everyone.

Who is the father of the Sasha’s foetus that unexpectedly comes to light? How can Beverley be mired in the charge of collusion? What evil will Stephen Grove-Williams not stoop to in order to end the snooping? What will John make of Beverley’s bid to blackmail a villain to feather her own nest? Can science triumph over treachery?

One thought on “Dr. Keith McCarthy’s John Eisenmenger Series

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