In the closing years of King Henry VIII’s reign, there is no shortage of death and disease in the slums of the great city. Disease can carry a person off within a matter of hours when one of the frequent epidemics (the Sweat), stalks the streets. Bianca hears famous alchemist, Ferris Stannum, has made a breakthrough in creating the fabled elixir of life, a potion that confers immortality upon the imbiber. She calls upon Stannum seeking to learn something to enhance her own work. Stannum takes a shine to the young woman and is prepared to help–but then dies in odd circumstances.
Convinced her mentor was murdered, Bianca sets out to uncover the perpetrator. Could his killer be a rival seeking to use Stannum’s wondrous discovery for his own gain, or the people he owed large sums of money to? There are plenty of suspects and plenty of fresh bodies piling up as Bianca ventures deeper into a web of deceit and misdirection surrounding the alchemist’s death. With her husband ailing from what appears to be a deadly disease, Bianca must rely upon her wits and her stalwart friend, Meddybemps the peddler, to see her through.
Reviewed by PublishersWeekly.com
Colorful alchemical lore and a vividly imagined 1543 London enrich Lawrence’s engaging if imperfectly plotted sequel to 2015’s The Alchemist’s Daughter. ... Lawrence excels at exploring themes—parent-child conflict, dreams of eternal life, and the limitations of medicine—that have period and present-day resonance. [Read full review...]
Reviewed by Authorlink.com
... In Death of an Alchemist, Mary Lawrence brings the world of Tudor London to life with all its grime, smells and moral ambiguity. Her heroine Bianca Goddard is flawed and all the more likable for it. Death of an Alchemist is enjoyable historic crime fiction with a solid foundation in fact. (Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews) [Read full review...]
Reviewed by RiffleBooks.com
... I truly enjoyed reading “Death of an Alchemist” by Mary Lawrence. It is a book that is hard to place in a genre; historical fiction: Tudor England, to a fine degree, making the reader see, hear and mostly smell what it was like to live in that time period. A mystery thriller: with a thrilling mystery, without the egoistic grandstanding of typical mysteries, that never loses sight of the brilliant story underlying all. How about just great fiction.
Just as the textures of daily life are omnipresent in this novel, so are the contextual vagaries of the various relationships between the characters. Bianca and John are obviously in love, however the author doesn’t choose to sugar coat it, they are also a married couple with all the hills and valleys that implies. Parent/Child relationships are the crux of this tale. They are dysfunctional and imperfect, yet unbreakable bonds that lead parent and child to do the unexpected. The interactions between characters offered realistic presentation, that further conveyed the typical of the time period. ... [Read full review ...]