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The Poisonous Seed: A Frances Doughty Mystery [Paperback]

Linda Stratmann
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 2011 A Frances Doughty Mystery
When a customer of William Doughty’s chemist shop dies of strychnine poisoning after drinking medicine he dispensed, William is blamed, and the family faces ruin. William’s daughter, nineteen year old Frances, determines to redeem her ailing father’s reputation and save the business. She soon becomes convinced that the death was murder, but unable to convince the police, she turns detective. Armed only with her wits, courage and determination, and aided by some unconventional new friends, Frances uncovers a startling deception and solves a ten year old murder. There will be more deaths, and a secret in her own family will be revealed before the killer is unmasked, and Frances will find that her life has changed forever. The first book in the popular Frances Doughty Mystery series.

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The Poisonous Seed: A Frances Doughty Mystery + The Daughters of Gentlemen: A Frances Doughty Mystery (Frances Doughty Mysteries) + A Case of Doubtful Death: A Frances Doughty Mystery
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; 1 edition (1 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752461184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752461182
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 333,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Linda was born in Leicester in 1948 and first started scribbling stories and poems at the age of six. She became interested in true crime when watching Edgar Lustgarten on TV in the 1950s. Linda attended Wyggeston Girls Grammar School, trained to be a chemists dispenser, and later studied at Newcastle University where she obtained a first in Psychology. She then spent 27 years in the civil service before leaving to devote her time to writing. Linda loves spending time in libraries and archives and really enjoys giving talks on her subject. Visit linda at her website

Product Description


"Her adventures as a detective, and the slowly unraveling evidence of multiple crimes in a murky Victorian setting, make for a gripping read." -- The Historical Novels Review

About the Author

Linda Stratmann is a freelance writer and editor. She has a degree in psychology and a life-long interest in true crime. She is the author of numerous titles including Gloucestershire Murders, Essex Murders, Kent Murders and Greater London Murders: 33 True Stories of Revenge, Jealousy, Greed & Lust.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the next one. 14 April 2011
By Teddy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was one of those books I didn't want to put down (even to walk home from the station, and I avoided walking into anything while reading as I walked!).

Written with a wealth of detail, in a style that evokes the atmosphere of London of the early 1880's and draws the reader into the day-to-day lives of the characters, to experience alongside them the events as they unfold.

If you like a good period-style murder mystery, in a book that delivers more than just the mystery, then this is probably the book for you. I know I shall be waiting eagerly for the next book in the series.

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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all in the details! 21 May 2012
By Johnnie
Well, we are so, so lucky that Ms Stratmann didn't follow her dreams and become an astronomer, as then the Victorian historical wonder that is the first of the Frances Doughty Mysteries might never have materialised. It cannot be stated enough how detailed the world of The Poisonous Seed appears as we meet our heroine and follow event after event that pulls her into some very un-lady-like pursuits. Captured in the whalebone corsetry of London society circa the early 1800s, Frances is forced to use every ounce of her not inconsiderable wit and common sense to navigate her course to discover how and why a loyal customer dies of strychnine poisoning found in medicine dispensed from the family apothecary.

You will find much to delight and inform in these pages, as Ms Stratmann reveals her coiled plot and colourful cast of characters. Loved it!

Now followed by The Daughters of Gentlemen: A Frances Doughty Mystery (Frances Doughty Mystery 2)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wobbly start, but I'm glad I persisted. 17 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The prose style is clunky at the beginning, and to be honest it never rises above serviceable, but after a few chapters it became less jarring and I was able to focus on the story and character. Frances is an extremely likeable heroine; she's clever and dutiful, not overly emotional, and she has a profession.

She turns to detection to protect her father's name and reputation, and employs her brains and a terrier-like persistence. I really enjoyed the persistence aspect - she approached the case from a number of different angles, worrying away at it, searching out answers in all kinds of different places, using all kinds of methods.

She also becomes interested in the women's suffrage movement, which was rather nice to see - a lot of novels set in historical time periods tend to treat them as static set-pieces, so it was nice to see characters being invested in change. I thought, too, the story did a nice job of balancing a "modern" perspective with the mores of the era, Frances remaining very much a woman of her time but with ambitions that a modern audience can sympathise with. Overall, I thought the novel had a great period feel. I've never thought about pharmacies or pharmacists in the Victorian period, and I really enjoyed reading about it.

The mystery was a little over-complex - a few weeks later I can't actually remember who was guilty - but I very much enjoyed the book and will be continuing to purchase books by this author.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing... 1 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I don't usually read crime fiction but I'm trying to widen my reading pool and thought the Victorian setting would work for me. The good news is, I managed to read it in one sitting, despite falling asleep several times - but only because I knew I wouldn't bother reading any further if I left it overnight.

I really don't understand the raving reviews posted here. The prose was clunky, the plot was so complex I found it impossible to believe so many risks paid off in the way they did; that so many critical coincidences should occur; and that Frances should strike lucky with two such obliging policemen - and that's before you even mention the two bizarre characters that appeared with useful information when there was no conceivable way for Frances to obtain it otherwise. And yet there was nothing meaningful going on beneath the murder story, no nuggets of wisdom or insightful observations to satisfy the soul. Very flat.

I wasn't at all convinced by either the characters or the time period in which the story is set. Throwing in a few historical facts and references to people like Dickens, and featuring plenty of obligatory servants, doesn't a good historical novel make.

I'm sure some of my criticisms (especially regarding the two bizarre characters - who clearly have something to do with the financial dealings she discovers while investigating the murder) will be addressed in the follow-up, but I won't be reading it to find out.

2.5 Generous Stars
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victorian era alive 21 May 2012
By Napasha
Having read Linda Stratmann's non fiction work, I was very excited to get my fingers on her first novel. And it does not disappoint. Victorian London comes alive under the author's watchful eye. The characters are well rounded and three dimensional. There is a depth in the story that is surprising for a first time novelist and wets my appetite for the next installment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Poisonous Seed by L Stratman 28 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Miss Frances Doughty works for her father in his chemist shop in late Victorian London. When a customer, Mr Garton, dies in suspicious circumstances after taking a potion bought in the premises, Mr Doughty falls under suspicion of negligence. Frances, however, is convinced that Mr Garton was murdered by other hands and sets about clearing her father's name.

Frances is a terrific literary creation: barred from practicing as a chemist herself because of her gender yet determined to succeed in a man's world; she is also endearingly vulnerable and feminine. The plot of murder and intrigue is complex, skilfully crafted and keeps the reader turning the page.

I have given four not five stars because there are some rather implausible and contrived plot devices such as women disguising themselves as men. But definitely recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting tale with several twists and turns
This was an interesting and enjoyable book to read. The approach is rather unusual but does confirm and question stereotypes about the period the story is set in. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Mrs. G. A. Farmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent story and interesting setting and time in history
Published 1 month ago by Carol Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it
I was given this book as a present and it sat on my bedside cabinet for about 6 months before I started to read it as I was convinced that it wasn't the kind of book I'd enjoy. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Clare Quinn
4.0 out of 5 stars The Poisonous Seed
Linda Stratmann's experience as a true crime writer shows in her telling of this complex story, rich in the flavour of the Victorian era. Read more
Published 5 months ago by KP
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!!
This is highly recommended for anyone who likes the murky world of Victorian crime and murder mysteries. And a lady detective to boot!!
Published 6 months ago by miss h el hamri
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
A light but entertaining read. Did not find the characters that easy to engage with but it did test the little old brain cells.
Published 6 months ago by a m carp
5.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Murder Mystery
My concisely listed thoughts about this series:

1. If you found the main character annoying then I would find your taste peculiar. She's pragmatic and interesting. Read more
Published 7 months ago by M. Beton
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging
I really enjoyed this book - it had engaging characters, especially Frances, the way she was written really made her come to life. Great plot and well written. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A VICTORIAN TALE
The first in the series of books about a Victorian girl who becomes a private detective. A good insight into the times and an enjoyable read. Read more
Published 14 months ago by jilliz
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
I enjoyed the story, and liked the character of Frances Doughty. I subsequently bought the others in the series, and look forward to some more.
Published 14 months ago by V J Goodwin
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