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on 29 August 2017
This was my first book by this Author - a friend recommended him and I have to say I am enjoying it. The story is compelling and it leaps about chronologically but it is easy enough to follow. Not normally a fan of the historical detective but I have been converted. Can't wait to read some more.
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on 26 June 2017
what a great read! not sure what genre this would be but that's why I love it. I've now read the whole series and it's a knockout.
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on 21 July 2015
Another good offering from an author who knows how to write. He knows so well that from an infinitesimal thread he is able to weave a story of more than 370 pages. It's amazing when you've reached the end and try to organise your thoughts about the book how few actual facts and elements he actually needs to create a well crafted tale. The sum total of plot elements could be written down on a postage stamp and yet Lloyd Sheperd spins and spins, uses diversions and circuitous routes in his circumlocutary prose so that by the end of the day, just like the magic tree in his opus, a whole world has emerged. I'm not sure I don't usually prefer a more substantial story but it works nevertheless.
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on 2 March 2013
The Poisoned Island is so much more than an excellent piece of historical fiction. Set at the start of the nineteenth century and introducing the crew of the Solander, recently returned from a botanical expedition to Tahiti, the storyline quickly develops into a murder mystery. Trying to piece together the grisly clues are the River Police detection team of Horton and Harriott, who return from Shepherd's strong debut book, The English Monster.

What I particularly liked about this book was not only the fascinating plot, (the link to the health of 'Mad King' George III was really clever), but also the fast-paced story line. I'm quite an intensive reader and this is one of those books that grabs you immediately and a book around which you find yourself adjusting your schedule to read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 August 2013
First of all I should perhaps make clear that I havent read "The English Monster" which precedes this novel but it did not detract from my enjoyment of "The Poisoned Island" one bit.

LONDON 1812: For forty years Britain has dreamed of the Pacific island of Tahiti, a dark paradise of bloody cults and beautiful natives. Now, decades after the first voyage of Captain Cook, a new ship returns to London, crammed with botanical specimens and, it seems, the mysteries of Tahiti.
When, days after the Solander's arrival, some of its crew are found dead and their sea-chests ransacked - their throats slashed, faces frozen into terrible smiles, John Harriott, magistrate of the Thames river police, puts constable Charles Horton in charge of the investigation.

The way I would describe this novel in one word is "Rich". The prose is terrific and draws you straight into another world. Characterisation is top notch and as someone who doesnt really "do" historical fiction I was immediately hooked. The streets of London live in this book - familiar places but with an unfamiliar way of living, the sense of place is amazing. The mystery is intriguing...and although I know absolutely nothing about this period in History it all felt very authentic.

Its difficult to review this book - another one where almost anything you would love to say will probably include spoilers...I think I'm just going to leave with this. If you are looking for something highly intriguing, a little bit different to the norm and have an interest in History then this one is for you. Certainly, although I am late to the party, I shall be picking up a copy of "The English Monster" soon. Nicely done Mr Shepherd.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the copy of this book via netgalley

Happy Reading Folks!
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on 26 August 2015
Having always been fascinated by Captain Cook and Joseph Banks ( no, my son is not called Endeavour!) and being a devotee of historical whodunnits I thought I'd give this a try. Really glad I did. The plot centres around a ship full of botanical specimens being brought back to London from Tahiti - destination Bank's Kew Gardens, and an outbreak of ferocious murders. The twists and turns and the characterisations keep you turning the page. Yes, I could work out what was coming next but that didn't affect my enjoyment. It was a great read for a horrible rainy day. Nice to find a whodunnit that was set in a time other than the Tudors. I'll certainly look out for other books by this author.
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on 10 March 2013
This is a fantastic read. Whether you are a fan of historical fiction or of CSI, there is something here for everyone. Shepherd has really stepped up on his first novel, "The English Monster", which is also a cracking read by the way. The Poisoned Island is a murder mystery that hooks the reader from start to finish, whilst at the same time educating us into some of the murkier aspects of British colonialist and scientific history. I picked this up and had finished it within a couple of days - not my usual style. I am very much looking forward to the next instalment of Horton and Harriott, the original detectives, who could easily become the next Holmes and Watson. You will love it!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 June 2013
After The English Monster, one of the most frightening and extraordinarily curious historical novels I read last year, I wondered what The Poisoned Island would have in store for me. Set not long after the events of its predecessor, the chilling and true life Ratcliffe Highway Murders in the early 19th century, The Poisoned Island takes London magistrate John Harriott and his constable Charles Horton on to their next big case.

The vessel the Solander returns to London's docks in 1812. It has become less ship than hothouse, its timbers near bursting with the fruits of its botanic expedition to Tahiti, or Otaheite as the crew know it. Sir Joseph Banks, friend of mad King George III and creator of the collections of Kew, has financed the voyage to the paradise islands he himself visited many years ago, long before he was crippled with age, obesity and lameness. But when the crew disembark into the inns and pauper streets of London, some carry a secret with them. It's not long before a number of them are found dead, their throats slit or their necks stretched, and all with a smile on their face, an ugly grimace suggesting they met their deaths with happiness, even ecstasy.

While Harriott and Horton (especially Horton) follow the blood-spattered, pungent clues across the poorer parts of London, Sir Joseph Banks with his librarian Robert Brown greets his green gifts from Tahiti, planting them with care, noting their names and their potential to science. There is one plant above all others that captivates Banks and Brown - an unknown bread plant, adorned with only female flowers, and possessed of the ability to grow at an unnatural rate. While Horton must puzzle at the secrets carried within the minds and sea chests of the crew, we are left to immerse ourselves in the mystery of England's dealings with Tahiti.

Although The Poisoned Island features the same principal characters as The English Monster - Harriott, Horton and others - it is a standalone novel and it isn't necessary to have read The English Monster first, although I would recommend that you do so. Both novels are highly original but they are very different from each other. The English Monster is a terrifying mix of history and horror. Its structure is unconventional and its London, despite the murders being true life, dark and walked by demons. The Poisoned Island is built around fictitious murders but its structure is more linear and, at least for me, its horror element has been tempered by something no less sinister and threatening but much more tangible. As a reader who struggles with horror, I liked that. The danger is no less and neither is its mystery but it has become more integrated into the story and timeline. As a result, I was given a historical mystery that I was able to become more involved with, that had a linear pace that gathered momentum, and frightened me without distancing me. Having said all that, I wouldn't have changed a word of The English Monster.

The Poisoned Island is a fabulous novel that I could barely put down over the last two days. Murder mystery, historical retelling, supernatural tale, it is a thoroughly fascinating and gripping look at the more sinister side of the famous Georgian sea journeys of discovery as well as the more suspect origins of the great botanic collections of Kew Gardens. This isn't my favourite period of history, far from it, but if there's any author that makes me want to know more about it, it's Lloyd Shepherd. More, please! I'm grateful for the review copy.
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on 6 March 2013
"Near the foot of great Tahiti Nui, in the shadow of the dead volcano and beneath the hungry eyes of ancient gods, the young Englishman chased his princess through the forest, despite the best efforts of the forest to stop him."
This powerfully written beginning gives a taste of events on the island visited by Captain Cook and subsequently exploited for its botanical specimens. The strength of writing in the first chapter of The Poisoned Island ensures you will read on to discover how the innocence and beauty of the island of Tahiti is linked with more hideous killings for Constable Horton and John Harriott - Magistrate of the Thames River Police- to ponder. As in Shepherd's first novel 'The English Monster' these men delve into hideous and unexplained violence which the River Thames presents to them. Meticulous research lies behind the historical and geographical credibility of both threads of plot and (often not the case in parallel plot novels) both are equally vivid and enjoyable to read while contrasting in atmosphere.

Is the story an allegory for the embarrassment we should feel as a nation for our exploitation of other people and places in the past. If so it is finely and subtly woven within events set in motion when ships return carrying their botanical riches and Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society works to further botanical knowledge. After reading 'The Poisoned Island' you may wander somewhat uneasily through the glasshouses of Kew.
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on 23 May 2015
Excellent. As with the first novel in this series, well written, exciting and totally captivating. the tale excellently blends fact and fiction to create a totally plausible and brilliantly portrayed world of intrigue, mystery and tension. I loved the English Monster, and can't wait for the next one.
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