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The Poisoned Island

(Charles Horton #2)

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  385 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Author of The English Monster takes us on another voyage of discovery from Kew Gardens to the island of Otaheite by way of a murder investigation.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 w ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published February 28th 2013 by Simon & Schuster UK (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  385 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
For me, this was a novel of rare delight – mysterious, original, with a cast of convincing characters, mostly historical, and a plot that keeps you guessing almost until the end.

Shepherd has a personal writing style which takes a certain amount of getting used to – he writes almost entirely in the present tense, with short chapters which dodge about a good deal in location and time, but once you have got used to this, and know who the diverse characters are, it is plain sailing.

The year is 1812
Bill Lynas
Lloyd Shepherd's second novel sees the return of his marvellous creations John Harriott (magistrate of the Thames river police) & police constable Charles Horton in another seamless blend of fact & fiction. While part of the story is set on the Pacific Island of Tahiti Shepherd still manages to bring 1800's London to life.
Some of the story does become repetitive in places & it would have benefitted from a little editing, but his sense of London life from Kew Gardens to Ratcliffe & Wapping cannot
Essie Fox
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Being a historical novelist I tend to read a lot of books that are linked to my own particular genre. But I like my historical fiction to offer something different – and as such I very much enjoy the novels of Lloyd Shepherd.

Lloyd Shepherd has written two unique tales in The English Monster and The Poisoned Island - both of which are intelligent and stylishly written, being part historical thrillers, part detective fictions, and part fantasy horrors. Both include actual historical figures in the
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it
To be honest I persevered with this book!
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delighted to discover that The Poisoned Island is made of the same stuff as The English Monster: megalomaniacal adventurers go exploring all over "primitive" cultures waving their imperial flag, with chilling consequences. In The English Monster it was Francis Drake and Jamaica, in The Poisoned Island it is Joseph Banks and Tahiti. Banks never actually funded this particular botanical expedition to Tahiti, as he does in the novel, so if you're a stickler for historical accuracy, be warned. I hav ...more
Set in Regency England, The Poisoned Island weaves stories from two voyages to Tahiti (Otaheite to the British at this time) with a tale of what happenes when the H.M.S. Solander returned from that second trip. The first voyage in 1769 brings British sailors to the beautiful island paradise--with gorgeous plant life and lovely women. It is a place where magic and myth still have great influence. When the sailors head back to England, they leave behind disease and a war amongst the Tahitians. Ove ...more
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
The Solander docks in London laden with botanical specimens gathered for Tahiti. Sponsored by Sir Joseph Banks, the voyage was a successful endeavour to bring back the island’s hidden treasures to Kew and the Royal Society. When Charles Horton of the Thames river police stumbles upon a murder scene, he is soon to discover the connection between it, and the ship his magistrate, John Harriott, welcomed home just the day before; for the victim is a member of the crew and his death appears more than ...more
Janette Fleming
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone nicely described The English Monster as ‘Regency X-Files.’ Well, this is Regency Fringe.

A ship arrives from the strange, doomed island of Tahiti, carrying a cargo of plants destined for the gardens at Kew. But not all the plants are what they seem. And when certain members of the crew are found dead, Constable Charles Horton and his magistrate, John Harriott, must once again dig up the buried crimes of England’s past.

LONDON 1812: For forty years Br
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Poisoned Island combines a mystery, history, and the supernatural. Set mainly in 1811 in London, the place and time move back and forth to preview the incidents that lead to the series of murders plaguing the crew of the ship Solander which has recently docked in London.

Several characters are real; Joseph Banks was famous as a naturalist and botanist and accompanied Cook on his first voyage to the South Pacific, including the island of Tahiti. Banks later funded William Bligh's voyage to Tah
Sep 05, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

Lloyd Shepherd's The Poisoned Island takes place primarily in London in the early 19th century, although parts of the narrative are also set in Tahiti. The story concerns the return from Tahiti of the Solander, a ship sent to the island to transport native plants back to London, and her crew. Almost immediately upon the ship's return, however, crew members start to turn up dead. While their deaths don't appear to be related to foul play, police officer Charles Horton investigates them n
Liz Barnsley
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Solan
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the alienist, people interested in mysteries set in regency-era Britain
A good book, with elements of magic that don't seem completely unrealistic.
A ship returns from Otaheite (Tahiti) with a group of sailors sharing some kind of secret. This group starts being killed off in a strange manner, which attracts the attention of Thames River Police Constable Charles Horton (identified incorrectly in the synopsis as "Thames River Police Chief"). Horton is a new kind of policeman, one who is interested in "investigation" and "evidence". This brings him into conflict with
Felicity Gibson
Apr 07, 2014 rated it liked it
The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd
Read 7th April 2014
Reading this novel was like holding a writhing snake well away from your body; you want to let go and yet you cannot in case it comes after you! I needed to know what happened. It is basically a detective story.
The plot is a combination of mystery, history and the supernatural - set in 1811, London. The novel is atmospheric and depicts a socially squalid London. The ship ‘Solander’ comes into London docks from Tahiti, carrying a cargo of b
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
At the start of the book we are introduced to some of the crew of the Solander who have recently returned from Tahiti. Their ship contained hundreds of exotic plants all destined for Kew Gardens. One of them is Sam Ransome who 'enjoyed the delights of the island', and who, upon reaching his lodgings, immediately puts the kettle on and makes himself a cup of tea and is 'blissfully happy'. Unfortunately for Sam he is found strangled soon after but with a huge smile on his face!

More of the crew are
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The English Monster was one of the most extraordinarily curious (in a good way) historical novels I read last year. I wondered what The Poisoned Island, set not long after the events of its predecessor, would have in store for me. The answer is a novel that I enjoyed even more than The English Monster. Far more confident, with a structure that made it easier for me to empathise with characters and events, The Poisoned Island is a thoroughly fascinating and gripping look at the more sinister side ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent follow up to Lloyd Shepherd's terrific debut novel The English Monster. The story revolves around the mysterious deaths of six members of the ship The Solander which has returned to London in 1812 . The Solander arrives from Tahiti laden with exotic specimens. The Solander mission has been sponsored by Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society and as the conspiracy unravels it takes some sharp twists and turns. Readers who enjoyed The English Monster will once again be cast unde ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is one of the most boring books I have ever read. It needed to be really edited down by at least 50% as there was so much extraneous material that added absolutely nothing to the story. The characters were bland and blah. The plot was so obvious that a child could have figured it out.
Jun 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in the Constable Charles Horton series. Lloyd Shepherd's books, besides being good detective stories are very good descriptions of life in and around the area of the Wapping Docks in the early 19th Century.
Kristin Melvin
May 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Such an appealing plot and so INCREDIBLY boring. I had to force myself to finish this just to be sure there was not a surprise ending. Nope.
Diane Louis
Aug 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This author's books are good from a historical accuracy point of view, but the writer's style of differing points of view and tense takes some getting used to. They also do have a tendency to be a tad long-winded. This particular title meandered round and round and didn't really come to the point until the very end. Now that is what a mystery story does, I hear you cry. Yes that IS what a mystery story does, but with Lloyd Shepherd's mystery stories, while murder occurs upon murder, the detectiv ...more
Kim Becker (Middle of the Book March)
I kept thinking I may give this a 4 star rating, but did not...because the mystery/thriller storyline fizzled at the end, and because of the depiction of female characters in the book. The writing is fantastic. Really loved the description and character development. It was seamless and flowed very well. However, the women in the book were insultingly written. Even though the story was set in the 17 and 1800s women could have been described differently and still would have been true to the histor ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it
It was okay. Interesting enough to keep me reading but the end was a disappointment. The author builds the surroundings and the story line but the plot twist is, in my opinion, not that much of a twist hitting the reader from out of left-field with little in the way of support through the telling of the tale. A snippet here, a snippet there and bingo... here's the murderer. I guess it's better than novels that put so much backstory into the story that you know who did it before you know what the ...more
Jessica Hecker
Jul 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I have rarely felt this way about a book but- there are so many details that it is dull in some parts! I would have given it another star because the mystery is good and I didn’t figure it out until close to the end but it also left several questions unanswered.
John Coleman
Historically and botanically off piste ..... but a good enough yarn to keep me going till the end
Santhi  Moine
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved every bit of it
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
At a time when the average temperature across America is a balmy negative 300 degrees, it was a nice change of pace (and scenery) to read Lloyd Shepherd's The Poisoned Island, which partially takes place in Tahiti.  It was an altogether warmer and intriguing story that kept me from thinking about the chills outside!

From Goodreads:
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
Cathy Cole
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again Lloyd Shepherd has written a deftly plotted and richly detailed book that will bring all your senses to life. Part murder mystery, part social commentary, The Poisoned Island is filled with creepy atmosphere, intriguing characters, and one very puzzling mystery. Although Harriott and Horton appear in Shepherd's previous book, The English Monster, both books can easily be read as standalones.

In The Poisoned Island, there are several flashbacks to past voyages to Tahiti, especially in
The Poisoned Island is immersive and addictive. The world is so vivid and well-built, it is hard to put down. And since the story is a murder-mystery, with layers of history and fact woven together with a healthy dose of magical realism, there's suspense, too, to keep you invested.

The writing is spectacular. The words drip with charm and grace. I loved letting the language carry me away, even in its crudest moments, with the roughest rabble-scrabble of 19th century London. There's no denying tha
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Poisoned Island is the stand-alone sequel to The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd. We left magistrate John Harriot and constable Charles Horton in January 1812 and now we are back in June 1812 where the Solander returns from a sea voyage bringing back home a cargo of plants and flowers from the green Paradise Tahiti, or Otaheite as it is called back in Regency England.

When only a few days later a couple of the crew members are found murdered under strange circumstances we begin to suspect
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I'm the author of The English Monster, The Poisoned Island and Savage Magic.

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Other books in the series

Charles Horton (4 books)
  • The English Monster
  • Savage Magic
  • The Detective and the Devil

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