Book Review – Beloved Poison by E.S Thompson…

The object I drew out was dusty and mildewed, and blotched with dark rust-coloured stains. It smelt of time and decay, sour, like old books and parchments. The light from the chapel’s stained glass window blushed red upon it, and upon my hands, as if the thing itself radiated a bloody glow.
Ramshackle and crumbling, trapped in the past and resisting the future, St Saviour’s Infirmary awaits demolition. Within its stinking wards and cramped corridors the doctors bicker and fight. Ambition, jealousy and hatred seethe beneath the veneer of professional courtesy. Always an outsider, and with a secret of her own to hide, apothecary Jem Flockhart observes everything, but says nothing.
And then six tiny coffins are uncovered, inside each a handful of dried flowers and a bundle of mouldering rags. When Jem comes across these strange relics hidden inside the infirmary’s old chapel, her quest to understand their meaning prises open a long-forgotten past – with fatal consequences.
In a trail that leads from the bloody world of the operating theatre and the dissecting table to the notorious squalor of Newgate and the gallows, Jem’s adversary proves to be both powerful and ruthless. As St Saviour’s destruction draws near, the dead are unearthed from their graves whilst the living are forced to make impossible choices. And murder is the price to be paid for the secrets to be kept.
I have been given an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
This book is so detailed and atmospheric. Praise must go to the author for the extensive research and knowledge of medicinal herbs.
We meet the protagonist, Jem Flockhart and right away discover that she is masquerading as a man in order to continue her father’s work as an apothecary. The young architect, Will Quartermain arrives at the start of the story to facilitate the relocation of any bones buried in the site before the hospital is pulled down to make way for the construction of railway tracks.
Right from the start you are pulled in to the story by the author’s delicious descriptions of the time period and the characters involved. You can almost smell what the characters smell and feel what they feel and you can sense the undercurrent of intrigue running throughout the whole story. 
The discovery of six small makeshift coffins in the anatomy museum cause Jem and Will to feel a creeping sense of dread, even though they have no idea what the coffins actually represent.
As they begin to investigate, the author cleverly paints such a picture of Victorian suspense and intrigue that you can almost imagine you are standing there with the protagonists as they attempt to unwrap the the layers of the story.
The words used create such rich imagery that one can almost see the pictures that they paint. I have vivid pictures of each of the characters in my mind.
The author shows us that arrogance and carelessness, even when the person is well meaning can bring about great trauma.
Yet the author also shows us that with diligence and hard work, you can uncover the truth.
I absolutely adored this book from start to finish and give it five out of five stars.
My profound thanks to Netgalley and to the Little Brown Book Group for my ARC.

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