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Beloved Poison

(Jem Flockhart #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  978 ratings  ·  196 reviews
Ramshackle and crumbling, trapped in the past and resisting the future, St Saviour’s Infirmary awaits demolition. Within its
stinking wards and cramped corridors the doctors bicker and fight. Always an outsider, and with a secret of her own to hide, apothecary Jem Flockhart observes everything, but says nothing.

Six tiny coffins are uncovered, inside each a handful of dried
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 2016 by Hachette Australia
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  978 ratings  ·  196 reviews

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Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-adult

Although this is a mystery/historical novel, to me it felt very character-driven. The mystery is indeed mysterious and quite intriguing, but I did not care for it as much as I cared for Jem.

Our heroine. Jem is a woman but, since women in the 19th Century are not considered fit to do a man’s job, she has to pretend to be Mr Flockhart, so she can remain a surgeon. But it was never her choice: it was her father’s.

And so she has to pretend to be someone she i
"Have a care," I hissed. "I am not what I seem, and I can poison you so vilely that you will scream for my forgiveness."

St. Saviour's Infirmary stands like an increpid old woman whose legs tremble from an ancient palsy. It's 1846 and her towering stone walls will soon come crashing down to make way for a new railway route. Like all decay, its origins lay within the festering hallways and even within the residents themselves.

Enter Jem Flockhart, an apothecary apprentice, surrounded by drying flow
Diane S ☔
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic start to not only a new series but a first novel. A London infirmary, St Saviors, in the 1850's provides a dark and foreboding setting. Jem is an apothecary's assistant, her father the apothecary, lives with a big secret, but generally loves working with the herbs and flowers that made up a major portion of medicine during this time period. When six small caskets are found it is the beginning of a quest that leads to many deaths and revelations.

Resurrection men, early anatomists
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jem Flockhart is the apprentice apothecary at St Saviour’s Infirmary. The hospital was built in 1135, but it is now 1846 and progress has decided that it needs to be pulled down to make way for a new railway. Will Quartermain is the junior architect for Shaw & Prentice and, being a junior, is given the unpleasant task of emptying the graveyard.

In this debut novel, the author creates a Victorian setting, and characters, which are almost Dickensian at times. We go from back street brothels, t
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I honestly loved this. It's no something I'd usually have chosen. Crime fiction set in the past has never been my thing. Then I read The Dark Inside and then I read Darktown: A Novel. What I realised was that I just hadn't read really good historical crime fiction. So I gave this one a go and was pleased to be able to give it the same rating at the above: 5* Each of these books are super different from each other, but blindingly brilliant in their own ways.

Here, once you pass the barrier of the
♥ Sandi ❣
4 stars

This debut novel, the first of a series, is the written equivalent of the Victorian crime show Ripper Street. Whereas this novel is geared toward medical and Ripper Street towards "coppers", the same era of medical experimentation is pertinent to both, as is the slums and degradation of that time period.

In a crumbling Victorian hospital in the middle of the 1800's a woman poses as a man - a doctor, an apothecary. Jem Flcokhart discovers six tiny coffins hidden in the Infirmary's chapel a
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A view weeks ago I received an email with the question if I wanted to read ‘Beloved Poison’. I saw the book cover and was immediately fascinated by this book. Even more when I read that this book had a historical medical theme. So when this beautiful looking book arrived I was super excited to start reading.

‘Beloved Poison’ is definitely a unique book. I’ve never read anything like it. It takes place in a crumbling hospital in the 1850s and it’s really different. It definitely took some getting
A richly atmospheric Victorian mystery.

Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having made a new year’s resolution to myself that I would endeavour to read more historical crime fiction, I was made aware of E. S. Thomson and Beloved Poison by one of my bookselling colleagues, who couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Set in the crumbling St Saviour’s Infirmary in the 1850’s the story centres on Jem Flockhart, an apothecary’s daughter who disguises herself as a man to practice her medicinal craft. It is a world of stinking wards, visceral medical procedures, and professional ...more
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
In brief - Jem is an outstanding character. Such accomplished and dark writing for a first book - remarkable. 4.5 happily rounded to 5

In full -
Sometimes you simply look at a book and it appeals. Beloved Poison, a first book by E S Thomson, was like that for me. It intrigued me and I don't often read historical books. Set in in the 1800s in a hospital in London I realised immediately that I was being painted a very vivid picture of life at that time. Beloved Poison concerns Mr Jem Flockhart (who
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Medicine and poison, life and death, the point at which one becomes the other isn’t always easy to command.

The pages of Beloved Poison are slathered with the limb-rotting foulness of the slums, the suffocating atmosphere of hospital wards, and secrets long abandoned to asylums.

It’s a grim reminder of the progression of medicine and how headway was made by celebrated individuals and their mercenary activities, all in the name of science. But hot on its heels is the truth, and sometimes that can
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The object I drew out was dusty and mildewed, and blotched with dark rust-coloured stains. It smelt of time and decay, sour, like old books and parchments. The light from the chapel's stained glass window blushed red upon it, and upon my hands, as if the thing itself radiated a bloody glow.

Ramshackle and crumbling, trapped in the past and resisting the future, St Saviour's Infirmary awaits demolition. Within its stinking wards and cramped corridors the doctors bicker and fight. Ambition, jealous

I was fully expecting to enjoy this book; I regret to say that I didn’t. It’s difficult for me to recall all the reasons – I finished reading a few months ago – but my overwhelming impression is that it was cold and contrived. The main character’s motivations were somewhat of a cipher to me; the character themselves was. Jem Flockhart is a woman, you see, and sees herself as a woman, is attracted to women, but is male-presenting. So far so good. The problem for me was that I had no clear picture
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beloved Poison follows Jem Flockhart - an apothecary working in St Saviours hospital in the 1800s, with a secret. Jen is actually Jemima but has pretended to be a man her entire life in order to inherit and continue her father’s apothecary business. When Jem finds six tiny coffins in the abandoned church in the hospital, and people begin showing up dead, she knows she has a mystery on her hand and with the help of her architect friend Will, sets out to solve it.

This was a really, really interest
Heather Duff
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will be honest, I am not usually one for historical books but this is a very special book so I made the exception as it is full of atmosphere and a ickle bit of gore!

Beloved Poison is set during the Victoria era within the decrepit walls of the soon to be demolished St Saviour's Infirmary, the story follows young Jem Flockhart, an apothecary within the hospital.

Jem is hiding a rather delicate secret, she is a girl hiding in plain view in a man's world, the doctors and surgeons are a mixed bunc
Tzu-Mainn Chen
The premise of "Beloved Poison" is certainly engaging. Set in Victorian London, Jem Flockhart is a woman raised as a man by her father, who wants her to have learning and opportunity. She works as an apprentice apothecary in a hospital, engaging with doctors both cruel and kind, progressive and hidebound. Then she discovers a mystery: six disturbingly crude effigies of small babies, hidden in an altar. And that discovery leads to secrets and murders and the revelation of past sins.

Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
There is a thread of a good mystery story in here, but it is so clunkily told, it’s a pain to get through. Really liked the characters of Jem and Will but the pacing is jerky and uneven - the author tries to pack in every fact she knows about medicine at the time, the formulaic foreshadowing sentences sprinkled throughout “After that night, nothing would ever be the same again.” “What a price I would pay for my arrogance.” Mention of the smell and grime of the time is repeated, over and over and ...more
Amber Eats Books
**3.75 stars**

I loved the atmosphere featured in this story. I also had a lot of fun experiencing all the little twists and turns that were peppered throughout. The main character, Jem, was unique and likable. I'm looking forward to the second book in this series!
Laura Andersen
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, mystery
First in a Victorian mystery series introducing Jem Flockhart, a woman living as a man in order to ply her trade as an apothecary. But her hospital is about to be torn down, and when she finds six tiny coffins hidden in the chapel, Jem's life is in as much danger as her job.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Immersive entertainment! Going to read on to the next installment.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vivid descriptions,very atmospheric and a very interesting main character.The mystery is just ok. Worth reading the second one,see where it goes.
Anna Elliott
Whilst this has clearly been written for a twenty-first century audience there are some definite echoes of Charles Dickens in this delightful historical crime novel. For instance, there is Mrs Roseplucker, the brothel keeper and Joe Silks, the handkerchief thief; all names worthy of the great man himself.

If you would like to read my full review then please visit my blog at: https://leftontheshelfbookblog.blogsp...
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, reviewed
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

E.S. Thomson keeps the reader on the edge of their seats in her debut novel, Beloved Poison. The narrator, Jem Flockhart, is the junior apothecary at the St Saviour’s Infirmary in Victorian-era London. Having grown up working in the hospital, Jem is not pleased to be lodging the junior architect, William Quartermain, who is part of the company tasked with knocking the building down in order to build a railway bridge. Whilst attempting t
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I had lived a lie for my entire life, I knew what it was to conceal, to dissemble, to pretend one was something one was not and all the time to be in fear of discovery. It was a difficult act to sustain. The urge to tell someone, to explain or justify oneself, was powerful and corrosive.

I LOVED THIS BOOK pass it on

So, it's a book about Jem Flockhart - 24-year-old woman. who has to hide her real gender and pretend to be a man in order to run her family's apothecary. It's not her idea, but her
Colleen Fauchelle
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-2016
This is my favourite book of the year. Loved the story, the setting, the characters and the descriptive words used to tell this story.
Warning if you have a sensitive stomach and go weak at the knees at the thought of graphic telling of medical procedures stay clear. This story is set in 1840 London at a training hospital, by a grave yard that they are digging up so they can shift the bodies to a new place. So there are all sorts of yucky smells described in this book. So read it in a clean fres
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVED IT. Amazing characters, and the setting in an 1850s hospital was incredibly fresh and compelling. Really enjoyed the book, and I feel like I learned a lot about old-timey medicine as well! The author has a PhD in the history of medicine and it shows--loving attention to detail in every page! Wrap it together with a fantastic plot, and you've got a winner on your hands.
Miriam Smith
Won in the Goodreads Giveaways
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much going on in Beloved Poison that it is impossible for the reader not to get sucked in. ES Thomson is a dedicated historical writer who also crafted a mesmerising and gritty murder mystery tale. Set in London in the 1800s, where disease is rampant, the streets are coated with filth and the graveyards are filled to bursting. ES Thomson pulls the reader into a tale of deception, murder, high stakes and perilous investigations.

Beloved Poison is centred around Jem Flockhart, an apothe
Marguerite Kaye
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

I loved this, I am so delighted to see that there's another in the series available.

Jem is a woman playing a man who is an apothecary who supplies medicines to one of London's biggest and oldest hospitals. Set in the 1840s at a time when medicine was casting off the old ideas of humours, blistering, bleeding and cupping - though not completely, one of the many, many fascinating aspects of this story for me was the warring factions between the different medical men - and all the blood
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to keep reading this book between running in rainstorms, riding the rails and returning to a house where I had stupidly turned the furnace off unaware of temperature drops. My fingers are actually stiff from the cold so perhaps typing out a review will help.
The setting of this novel is at times overwhelming to the reader: a crumbling, rat-infested London infirmary associated with ego-driven doctors who fight over fresh dead bodies and performing in front of eager audiences whilst being sup
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Elaine Thomson was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire. She has a PhD in the history of medicine and works as a university lecturer in Edinburgh. She was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award and the Scottish Arts Council First Book Award. Elaine lives in Edinburgh with her two sons.

Other books in the series

Jem Flockhart (4 books)
  • Dark Asylum (Jem Flockhart, #2)
  • The Blood (Jem Flockhart, #3)
  • Surgeons’ Hall