by Mary Lawrence, April 2015.
In the year 1543 of King Henry VIII’s turbulent reign, the daughter of a notorious alchemist finds herself suspected of cold-blooded murder…
Bianca Goddard employs her knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants to concoct remedies for the disease-riddled poor in London’s squalid Southwark slum. But when her friend Jolyn comes to her complaining of severe stomach pains, Bianca’s prescription seems to kill her on the spot. Recovering from her shock, Bianca suspects Jolyn may have been poisoned before coming to her—but the local constable is not so easily convinced.
To clear her name and keep her neck free of the gallows, Bianca must apply her knowledge of the healing arts to deduce exactly how her friend was murdered and by whom—before she herself falls victim to a similar fate…
Reviewed by Bonnye Busbice Good, New Mystery Reader
... Author Mary Lawrence does an excellent job of fleshing out her characters amidst the backdrop of London and the era without ever letting those details overwhelm the primary narrative. She adds historically accurate descriptions of historical places such as Newgate Prison and various practices such as gibbets and the gallows which inspired terror for citizens accused of crime or treason.
Bianca is both extremely likeable and exasperating, but her quirkiness bonds her friends to her, resulting in a wonderfully interesting ensemble. The Alchemist’s Daughter is well-written, enjoyable, and well-worth reading—and fortunately for the reader, the first in a planned series.
Ultimately, Lawrence’s debut novel successfully marries the historical fiction depicting the Tudor-era grimy underbelly of London’s dangerous streets with an effective thriller laced with quickening fear as Bianca runs out of time to save herself and to find the killer. [Read full review...]
Review by: Gpangel on Nightowlreviews.com
... I really do enjoy historical mysteries but finding them set in the 1500's against the Tudor backdrop is not all that common, and when the king isn't mentioned nor his politics, it is an even rarer find. I loved that about this book. The characters are very well drawn, some adding humor, some adding a romantic element, but all loyal and committed to helping Bianca and to finding the truth. Constable Patch was like many in his occupation, simply going by what evidence was the easiest to make a case with and going no further with his investigations. Still, he does grudgingly back off when he could have continued to make things difficult. Our bad guy is truly diabolical, showing that if someone wants to commit mass murder they will find a way in which to do so and this thought was quite chilling.
I breezed through this book very quickly, reading it in a matter of hours. At times the language did slow me down as the author added as much authenticity to the slang and pronunciations as possible without losing the reader in the process. I thought this was a nice touch and added more atmosphere and realism. Still, this is a very easy read, very different from the usual procedural type mystery making it especially fun to read. I am thankful this novel is a part of a series featuring Bianca because this book has made me a fan. [Read full review...]
Reviewed by Caffeinated Book Reviewer
“A realistic evocation of 16th century London’s underside. The various strands of the plot are so skillfully plaited together.” ...
From the dark, bleak descriptions of the slums and establishments to the RATS I am quite determined I will not be taking any trips there in the Tardis! The mystery and characters held me captive despite threats of vermin and disease. I lost myself within its pages and enjoyed the flow of the story. Mary Lawrence brought the period to life. I could smell the waste, and see the folks going about their day. Books set in the Tudor period rarely depict the lower classes and despite my queasy stomach, I enjoyed Lawrence’s attention to detail while keeping the story moving at a steady clip. I love books involving Alchemy but oh, lords do not mention that word around Bianca. She does not consider herself an alchemist but a healer. ...
While I wanted more details about Bianca and her family, I found The Alchemist’s Daughter to be an engaging mystery. I am looking forward to news on the next installment [Read full review ...]