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The Poisonous Seed: A Frances Doughty Mystery Paperback – 1 Apr 2011

48 customer reviews

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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: 1.9 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 232,709 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 www.lindastratmann.com

Product Description

Review

"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

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Johnnie on 21 May 2012
Format: Paperback
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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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Teddy on 14 April 2011
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.

Teddy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. MacDonald on 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 By CaSundara on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carroty Nell on 28 Sept. 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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