Death of An Alchemist by Mary Lawrence
S E R I E S: Bianca Goddard (Nº 2)
A U T H O R: Mary Lawrence
P U B L I S H E R: Kensington Books
P U B L I S H--D A T E: January 26, 2016
I S B N: 9781617737121
In the mid sixteenth century, Henry VIII sits on the throne, and Bianca Goddard tends to the sick and suffering in London's slums, where disease can take a life as quickly as murder. . .
For years, alchemist Ferris Stannum has devoted himself to developing the Elixir of Life, the reputed serum of immortality. Having tested his remedy successfully on an animal, Stannum intends to send his alchemy journal to a colleague in Cairo for confirmation. Instead he is strangled in his bed and his journal is stolen.
As the daughter of an alchemist herself, Bianca is well acquainted with the mystical healing arts. As her husband, John, falls ill with the sweating sickness, she dares to hope Stannum's journal could contain the secret to his recovery. But first she must solve the alchemist's murder. As she ventures into a world of treachery and deceit, Stannum's death proves to be only the first in a series of murders--and Bianca's quest becomes a matter of life and death, not only for her husband, but for herself. . .
As far as historical mysteries goes, this was a great one. A bit different in that the sleuth in this series is a woman who is not of noble or privileged birth. In most books of this nature the investigator is either a constable or someone of the noble class. Bianca however, grew up in the poorer district in Southwark, located across the Thames from London. Her comings and goings take her to some pretty sketchy areas but since she grew up there, she knows how to survive. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have some close calls or stays out of trouble. I think that is one of the things I liked about this book. It’s from the perspective of a character not from the upper classes.
Some of the language and phrases were modernized but that doesn’t detract at all from the time period in which this book takes place. I think that it makes it easier for modern readers to enjoy this story.
It was well written and the characters were well developed. Though I didn’t read the first book, it was still easy for me to follow along. I enjoyed the interactions with Bianca and Meddybemps. I was also on the edge of my seat wondering what fate had in store for John. I do look forward to reading more of Bianca’s adventures. I’m giving this one four stars.