The short story The Body Snatcher was first published in the Pall Mall Christmas "Extra", December 1884. The story is based on characters in the employ of Robert Knox, around the time of the Burke and Hare murders. The story begins with a group of friends sharing a few drinks, when an eminent doctor, Wolfe MacFarlane, enters. One of the friends, Fettes, recognizes the name and angrily confronts the new arrival. Although his friends all find this behaviour suspicious, none of them can understand what might lie behind it.
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