In The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence we are introduced to Bianca Goddard, a young woman who lives and breathes the practice of alchemy. Long before the science of forensics, there were those whose life revolved around alchemy, an earlier science involving herbs and medicinal plants, more in the form of remedies, but nevertheless often helpful in both the creating and solving of crimes. And known for her remedies and discoveries, Bianca finds herself digging even deeper as she saves her father from the gallows by proving he had not tried to poison the King.
Yet with all that past, life has settled and she is now betrothed to her love, and busy trying to find a remedy for the diseases that strike the poor in the Southwark slums of London. Unconventional and beautiful, Bianca is smart and daring. She has concocted a form of rat poison that is in demand, for rats have begun over running the area. Death and disease come along with them, and she is not going to allow them to continue their plague.
When a dear friend dies while visiting her shop, Bianca finds herself immediately a suspect, especially with her father’s background. She must use her skills in medicine to find the poison used as well as the actual murderer. Yet to do that she must stay ahead of the police. As she bobs in and out of the tenements, one step ahead, she stumbles on an even bigger plot, one that will take down the entire city if not stopped. Can she save herself from the goal and hanging, and help solve the mystery of the rats, before it is too late for them all? As the deaths pile up, Bianca finds herself one step ahead of danger. When the police are after her, who does she turn to for help?
Bianca and her group of friends and misfits are brought to stark relief through the descriptions engendered by the author. You find yourself drawn to them, and even amused at the antics in the strangely creepy and suspenseful mystery.
Bianca is her own woman, and as such she does not follow the norms of the times. She stands out and becomes a hero to those who believe in her. She is smart and brave, sometimes to her detriment.
If you enjoy history and mystery with fun and romance, as well as a creep appeal you will find this a truly amazing addition to your library. Bianca makes a great sleuth, and the backdrop of 16th Century London takes you back to a time before forensics and medicine become as we know them today.
This would be a great work for a reading or discussion group. The appeal and nuances would create a great deal of debate and interest.[amazon asin=B00ONTS5UQ&template=iframe image]