Dark Asylum: A Jem Flockhart Mystery Hardcover – 2 Mar 2017
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Beloved Poison is a marvellous, vivid book with a thoughtful, engaging protagonist at its centre - and a fascinating story to tell. It's immaculately researched and breathtakingly dark. Elaine Thomson's descriptive powers are so great that that I was surprised to see twenty-first century London rather than grimy, smelly St Saviour's around me when I - eventually - looked up from its pages (Janet Ellis, author of The Butcher’s Hook)
Beloved Poison is a marvellous, vivid book with a thoughtful, engaging protagonist at its centre - and a fascinating story to tell. It's immaculately researched and breathtakingly dark. Elaine Thomson's descriptive powers are so great that that I was surprised to see twenty-first century London rather than grimy, smelly St Saviour's around me when I - eventually - looked up from its pages (Janet Ellis, author of The Butcher’s Hook )
Following on from the events of acclaimed debut Beloved Poison, Dark Asylum vividly portrays the Gothic horror and questionable science of Victorian mental asylums in chilling detail. Meticulously researched and masterfully plotted, E.S. Thomson has written a complex, harrowing and highly enjoyable tale (Daily Express)
Dark Asylum positively oozes gothic menace, and the author's evocation of the city at that time is visceral and engagingly morbid . . . A first class piece of historical crime writing (Doug Johnstone Big Issue)
Here's a tale of Victorian London to freeze your blood on a cold winter's night (Alex Gordon Evening Telegraph on Beloved Poison)
You can almost feel the evil miasma rising from the page (Kirkus Reviews on Beloved Poison)
This outstanding debut historical enthrals with its meticulously researched details (Library Journal on Beloved Poison)
From the first page to the last, I enjoyed every brilliantly written, and often hideous, detail ... A splendid read (Cambridge Magazine on Beloved Poison)
A historical novel to be savoured (Lesley McDowell The National on Beloved Poison)
Meticulously researched and masterfully plotted, E S Thomson has written a complex, harrowing and highly enjoyable tale. (Daily Express)
Set in a crumbling Victorian asylum where a gruesome murder is committed, this novel deals with the early 'science' of brain study and lobotomy, as well as giving a chilling insight into the asylum's workings, inmates and doctors, many of whom are more insane than their poor patients.See all Product description
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If you like your crime dark and Dickensian - or at least as Dickens might have written crime if he'd ever got the hang of brevity and pithiness, not to mention the ability to create believable women - you will love this dark, vision of a very particular London underworld.
If you're interested in nineteenth century psychiatry and how very far we've come from treating 'lunatics' like wild animals, you'll find this fascinating.
If you want feisty female criminals, a psychologically tortured sleuth, and a world created so brilliantly that I Googled Prior's Rents thinking it must be real, ES Thomson is your author.
Ms Thomson's cast are fabulous. The crimes this time, I felt, were rather over complicated and at the end I was struggling to keep up with the (in my view unnecessary0 twists and turns. For me, a bit less plot and a little more of Jem would have been a better balance, but I do understand that the author has to keep some of Jem back to be explored in the next book(s). I'm just being greedy.
This is a murder mystery. It's a character study. It's a diatribe on the hypocrisy of Victorian values, and the analogies are too clearly drawn for it not also to be a diatribe on today's. I really enjoyed this, and am already looking forward to the next one.
Along the way I found myself wading through the bowels of Victorian street life and witnessing the crude progression of medicine. As I became immersed a world overcast by the increasing absence of moral code I was relieved to be greeted by a few familiar and needy faces from “Beloved Poison” (book one), most possessing a cracking and inventive surname.
Without being at all preachy “Dark Asylum” pools archaic attitudes to public and mental health, gender, and crime and punishment into a plausible and compelling tale. Before the halfway stage I was already seeking out the next book in the series so I could see what other challenges await our enterprising Apothecary, Jem Flockhart.
A brilliant read – can’t wait to dive into the next instalment.
The central mystery in this book is better than the first in the series, and that is partly because of the interwoven back story of one of the characters. We find out at the end who this character is, and I enjoyed their story as much as the main one, if not more. I loved the characters at the asylum, particularly the women, who laced their stays like armour against a world where men took so much from them.
E.S.Thomson is a historian, and this adds a fantastic level of detail to how we experience dark, Victorian London, and an asylum system that was so broken. Her next novel is set on a prison ship, and I'm anticipating equal amounts of suffering and grim reality of the era. I can't wait.