During the tempestuous reign of Henry VIII, London alchemist Bianca Goddard has seen up close what keeps a man alive and what can kill him. A good thing, for she will need all her knowledge to keep a friend away from the gallows . . .
Bianca and her husband John are delighted to share in the glad fortune of their friend, Boisvert, the silversmith, who is to wed Odile, the wealthy widow of a goldsmith. But a pall is cast over the upcoming nuptials when the body of a pregnant woman is found beneath the bell tower of St. Vedast, the very church where the betrothed are to be married. Tragedy strikes again at the couple s reception, when Odile suddenly drops dead in the middle of the wedding feast. The constable suspects Boisvert poisoned his new bride for her money, but there s not a trace of poison in her food or wine. Could the two deaths be connected? To prove their friend s innocence, Bianca will need to employ her knowledge of alchemy for if she can determine how the bride was killed, she may find the person responsible for her murder before another victim is added to the death toll . . . Praise for The Alchemist s Daughter
Set during the twilight years of Henry VIII with vibrant characters, a compelling plot and accurate historical depictions, The Alchemist s Daughter brings the darkness and danger of Tudor London vividly to life as it weaves its suspenseful tale. This beautifully written addition to the medieval mystery genre is sure to delight all fans of the period. Sandra Worth, author of Pale Rose of England A smart, scientific sleuth Lawrence uses her enthusiasm for Elizabethan England to create an historical novel within a mystery. Portland Monthly
The writing is terrific, with great period details. There are lots of red herrings and a surprising amount of action that will keep readers engaged until the very last page. San Francisco Book Review
I absolutelyloved The Alchemist's Daughter - the characters, the authentic feel of the period, and of course the richly drawn story. Dorothy Cannell, author of Murder at Mullings
Lawrence proves herself to be an excellent storyteller with this grim tale of murder, mayhem and medicine." CentralMaine.com
A realistic evocation of 16th century London s underside. The various strands of the plot are so skillfully plaited together. Fiona Buckley
Captivating . . . just smart enough to be charming without being precious or terribly unrealistic. Library Journal Well-written, enjoyable, and well-worth reading. New Mystery Reader
Praise for Death of an Alchemist
Lawrence excels at exploring themes parent-child conflict, dreams of eternal life, and the limitations of medicine that have period and present-day resonance. Publishers Weekly
Another exciting adventure on the back streets of 16th century London. RT Book Reviews
Mary Lawrence is as sharp as ever this is an exciting and very satisfying historical mystery in Tudor London. Kennebec Journal
The Bianca Goddard Mysteries are set in Tudor London during the final years of King Henry VIII's reign. Bianca is the daughter of an infamous alchemist who uses her 'wits' and some alchemy to solve murders among the commoners. The series consists of THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER, DEATH OF AN ALCHEMIST, DEATH AT ST. VEDAST, THE ALCHEMIST OF LOST SOULS and THE LOST BOYS OF LONDON. All of the titles have reached the top 100 best-selling historical mysteries category on Amazon, with THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER reaching #1.
I grew up in Indiana and live and farm in Maine. For over 25 years I worked in hospitals and labs as a cytotechnologist. Writing helped me escape my boredom and I became interested in Tudor history. On the side, I wrote indexes for publishers and academics. My articles have been published by the national news blog, The Daily Beast.
The Bianca Goddard mysteries are meant to entertain and to engage readers who might not pick up period historicals as a first choice. The Tudor era is an intriguing period, full of superstition, and the makings for interesting characters. Follow me on facebook https://www.facebook.com/marylawrence... twitter at mel59lawrence.
This is such a fascinating series and makes more sense when read in order. Lawrence has a wonderfully descriptive writing style that truly brings the Tudor period of England to life. Bianca is an interesting and engaging character who finds herself m in unique situations. If you are a fan of historical fiction , this is a wonderful series to explore.
When Boisvert the silversmith is accused of poisoning his wealthy bride, Bianca must uncover a connection between a series of deaths at St. Vedast Church involving three powerful London guilds, before more victims succumb to a murderer’s twisted plan for redemption and their friend is hanged at the gallows.
Book 3 in the Bianca Goddard Mysteries, takes us to Foster Lane where three prominent London Guilds are located. Out of her usual environs and unable to use her room of Medicinals and Physickes to aide her, Bianca hobnobs with the merchant elite and travels to the small village of Dinmow to piece together the clues that will solve a series of disturbing murders.
To be completely honest with you this is the kind of series that you're sorry when it ends and you can't just keep reading- You relate to the characters or well, aspire to be like them. Being the third book of the series you feel invested in Bianca, John & Meddybumps, even Hobs. You're friends at this point and are simply traveling with them quietly- it's a complex puzzle you watch unfold.
Mary Lawrence pulls you into medieval London and leads you through the streets. She makes you feel what it's like to be slipping in the mud while it's forcing its way through the holes in your shoes and squishing between your toes. She draws you in & it's nice to enjoy it from the cozy comfort of your couch or easy chair.
To be analytical you could scrutinize the classic themes of virtue & hypocrisy or power & corruption. But I just loved the twists and turns; every time I thought I knew the culprit, I was wrong. It's written from an unusual angle in a dramatic time... it's candy to read-
Also, from a completely practical standpoint, I love the structure of the book and length of the chapters- I'm busy & I can squeeze in a chapter here and there, it keeps the book accessible. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now if you don't mind, I'm going to read the trilogy again... Cheers and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!
Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington books for the perusal of Death At St. Vedast. I could not!!! put this book down; it was absolutely captivating, and exactly the subject matter and kind of read i LOVE!!! This is a must read for anyone who loves or feels an affinity toward the Tudor era in England. All history buffs, Take note..It's a must read!!
I love this series. I used to believe that books publish from small publishers were not as good as from mainstream publishers. Series like this have drastically changed that view. The characters are well written, the action moves along, the plot is interesting and the whole story just pulls you in. I would strongly recommend this book to any who like mysteries or historical fiction.
An enjoyable murder mystery set in Tudor times, with the amateur sleuth/female alchemist, Bianca Goddard becoming embroiled in yet another set of local murders to solve. This is the third in the series and follows mysterious deaths which seem to hint at some kind of poisoning, whilst also involving the church, nursery rhymes and communion bread - this is an enigma that will keep you guessing until the very end. The series has followed the adventures and mishaps of Bianca Goddard, a likeable and credible heroine, who just cannot seem to help getting herself involved in things that shouldn't concern her - and yet she has the courage of her convictions and relentlessly enmeshes herself in the thick of the trouble, determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, notwithstanding the lack of progress made by the authorities - which does nothing for her popularity amongst them. Bianca, along with her erstwhile husband John, have the chance at a move up in the world, but things get off to a bad start when two suspicious deaths occur at the time of their new life in Foster Lane, a decidedly better part of London than her previous dwellings. The ongoing saga takes them to the outskirts of London, where they face the possible wrath of locals who don't take kindly to strangers casting aspersions on their local produce, once more ensuring that readers are left wondering how they will escape from the clutches of the many dangerous people around them...
Another complex sixteenth century murder mystery with alchemist Bianca Goddard at the forefront. A pregnant woman flings herself from a church steeple, a wealthy widow suddenly becomes contorted and unable to control her limbs. The church at St. Verdast seems to have a malignant miasma surrounding it. Bianca's husband John has moved up in the world and needs to reside in London near St. Verdast John's friend, silversmith Boisvert who is to marry Odile, the wealthy widow of a prominent London goldsmith. When Odile dies at her wedding feast Boisvert is accused of poisoning her and Bianca and John race against time to find evidence of Boisvert's innocence. Bianca moves her alchemy equipment with some trepidation, but is never truly comfortable, frightened that the various smells and odours will lead to discovery by a less than forgiving population. However very little time passes before Bianca is caught up in a web of untimely deaths presenting possessed type symptoms, possible poisonings and a war between the bakery guilds, not to mention the goldsmith guild. Who knew the meaning for the childhood rhyme of 'Goosey, goosey, gander'? That rhyme forms an interesting part of the intrigue. Another excellent Goddard mystery with the 'wraith' of the Thames the Rat Man lurking as always. He needs Bianca back in her previous lodgings.
4 stars!! Book 3 in the Bianca Goddard mystery series! December 1543, and the world looks different to Bianca from Foster Lane, home of citizens above her station. But the love for her husband and the opportunity to aid in his future acceptance to the Goldsmith Guild (along with upgraded rental courtesy of John's master), has her reluctantly leaving Gull Hole. For now her practice and home business in Medicinals and Physickes has been put on hold, it would be difficult to hide the scent of her chemistries from the neighbors! It was hard enough to travel in the early morn under the cover of darkness to keep any and all from knowing of the rats (in iron cages these days) Bianca would be hiding below stairs. Almost to her new home, a crowd of people in the churchyard draws her attention and upon discovering the source to find those gathered in the cold so early in the morning, Bianca realizes that even here death visits.
Because Bianca is an amateur sleuth, I place this in the cozy mystery category as well as historical fiction. I believe readers of each genre will be intrigued. Bianca and her husband are moved to improved circumstances, a major change for her as she is sure she does not want to be like the more gentrified class. From the moment they arrive, and discover the scene of the first scandalous death, Bianca notices and sticks her nose into each suspicious circumstance. Are the deaths connected? Who has motive? Might it be a devil at work?
Complicated and entangled.
Besides being a well written mystery, the reader feels as if they have been transported back in time. Yes, there is use of creative license with some of the details but they fit together seamlessly. Very believable. This can be read as a stand alone.
I voluntarily accepted this book for review purposes from Netgalley.
I really enjoyed this latest installment to the Bianca Goddard series. John’s boss, Boisvert, is getting married and he is letting John and Bianca live in his rooms at his silversmithing shop. Bianca is unhappy because she cannot do her often foul-smelling experiments without offending her neighbors. Even more significantly, she risks being accused of witchcraft.
John and Bianca haven’t even moved into their new home when Bianca learns of a mysterious death at a nearby church, known as St. Vedast. Of course, she can never resist investigating a potential murder!
Ms. Lawrence really nails the sights, sounds and especially smells of Tudor-era London. Lots of fun.
Thanks Kensington Books and netgalley for this ARC.
Bianca and her husband go thru so many changes this book, and it brings Bianca new challenges. I missed her alchemical studies, but she won't be letting that go for long. The mystery in this story lets us learn a lot about the time period and it's peculiarities. Can't wait for the next mystery and more about the Rat man too.
I wanted more historical mysteries after reading The Lady Chapel, so I checked out Death at St. Vedast, a book that has been on my TBR list for a while!
Death at St. Vedast starts with a suspicious suicide – a woman, who seems impervious to the cold, throws herself from a great height. Bianca, an alchemist who just moved to the area, sees the body on her first day in the neighbourhood. She would like to investigate but more pressing things call for her attention, namely the wedding of her husband’s master and friend, Boisvert the silversmith. However, Boisvert’s wife Odile dies immediately after the wedding and Boisvert is arrested. Bianca spots parallels between Odile’s death and what she hears about the suicide – can she uncover the truth and clear Boisvert’s name?
To be honest, Death at St. Vedast started out a little slower than expected. Apart from the suicide, there was also a chapter on Bianca’s alchemy and someone who may have been her mentor (I suspect this is related to the overall series, which I don’t know about because this is the first book I read), and then quite a bit about her and John (her husband’s) move to the area. To be honest, for me the plot only picked up after Odile’s death. But I’m glad I carried on reading because I found the mystery to be quite ingenious and I really enjoyed following Bianca and her investigation.
Given that Bianca is the main character, it’s no surprise that I found her to be likeable and sympathetic. She’s headstrong and very smart, two traits that I admire, and I am super curious about her past. Apparently, her father was a notorious alchemist and he passed his love of alchemy to her, making her a very unusual woman for her time.
Bianca and John’s relationship was also pretty interesting. It was definitely very tense in the beginning, but as they started investigating, I started to see the affection that they had for each other. I really wonder what happened before and it made me interested in going back and reading the first book.
Overall, I enjoyed Death at St. Vedast. The book did feel a little long, but I was hooked once the second death occurred and I am probably going to go back and read the first book in the series sometime in the future. I think this is a book that fans of historical mysteries are going to enjoy.
The Bianca Goddard series is a historical fiction mystery series featuring alchemist/herbalist, Bianca Goddard and her husband John, who's training to become a Silversmith. Bianca mixes physiques and salves which her streetseller friend, Meddybemps, then sells for her.
In the beginning of this third installment, Bianca and John are moving above the Silversmith shop because his master, Boisvert, is getting married. For Bianca this means she can't conduct her experiments until she finds a secluded shop to work in because a lot of people believe that her practice of alchemy is witchy business or dancing with the devil etc. So when a lady is found dead at St. Vedast, a church very near to their new home, followed by a weird sickness and then the murder of Bianca's friend, she puts her medicinals on hold and vows to get to the bottom of these mysterious deaths. As her investigations take her from St. Vedast church, and the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, to the Brown and White Bakers Guilds she finds herself learning the inner workings of the different guilds, bread making, ale brewing and church politics.
I personally got hooked on this series because I enjoy the time period the series is set in -around 1543. I also love the quirky characters especially Hobs- the immortal, wild cat and Bianca- who's always burning something or creating the most awful smells and messes. I also find Bianca's experiments and creations of medicinals fun and fascinating so I was a little put out that Bianca's alchemy wasn't highlighted more in this mystery. Bianca did do a couple of experiments with her rats and bread at the very end to help solve the mystery but I would have liked to seen more. I did enjoy learning all about the guilds though, and the bread baking and how the gristmill works. That was all pretty interesting.
I also really enjoyed the complexity to this mystery. There was a whole lot going on and I really liked that. Trying to fit all of the pieces together kept me thoroughly engaged.
Which brings me to the ending, I felt like some of the strings, particularly from the Dinmow mystery and death, weren't fully tied together. I would have liked it more if Bianca would have went back to Dinmow and wrapped up things with Father Paston, Brother Fromme and Felton, the brewer, since she told them she would figure everything out and to see if Elgin, owner of the Stuffed Goose or Littleton was involved in anyway as Bianca suspected. None of that was tied up to my satisfaction at the end which is why I only rated it 3.5 stars.
*I received this ARC from NetGalley & Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Bianca Goddard is back! Her adventures continue in Mary Lawrence’s latest book, Death At St. Vedast, available December 27, 2016.
Mary Lawrence’s Bianca Goddard Mystery series are Historical Fiction set in Tudor England. We first met Bianca in The Alchemist’s Daughter (reviewed March 24, 2015) and were reunited with her in The Death of An Alchemist (reviewed January 4, 2016). Death At St. Vedast is Lawrence’s third installment in the series.
Bianca Goddard is the Alchemist’s daughter. She creates balms and salves and the like in her room of Medicinals and Physickes, where she also performs her experiments and chemistries. Bianca’s husband, John, is apprentice to the silversmith, Boisvert. As Boisvert is getting married and moving, John arranges for them to move to Boisvert’s rent that adjoins the forge. The conditions of the arrangement, however, require that Bianca “forgo her chemistries” (Advance Reader’s Edition p. 14). Needless to say, Bianca was reticent about the impending move.
While moving to the new home, Bianca encounters the body of a dead woman at St. Vedast Chuch, the nearby church where Boisvert is to be married. Was it “self-murder”? Was the woman pushed? Did she fall? Naturally, the curious Bianca wants to know. But, as the threads tied to the woman’s death weave closer to home, Bianca becomes curiouser. There is trouble at St. Vedast, and it impacts Boisvert’s wedding. More deaths follow. Although these appear to be disparate, isolated incidents, Bianca perseveres. By following the few, meandering, twisting-turning threads, she is able to tie them together and solve the mystery.
As I have said in previous reviews of Lawrence’s work, the Bianca Goddard series provides a refreshing look at Tudor England, as Bianca is neither royal nor noble – she is simply common. However, Bianca is anything but ordinary. She is an intelligent and refreshing heroine.
Death At St. Vedast is a well written, good, solid mystery. As with Death of An Alchemist, Lawrence includes a much appreciated Author’s Note at the end of Death At St. Vedast, although I would have liked to read more there about the mysterious illness encountered by Bianca. Completing Death At St. Vedast has left me feeling as I did after completing the first two Bianca Goddard mysteries: I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Bianca’s adventures.
Mary Lawrence never fails to intrigue and set a wonderful sense of place and time in her stories, and as Bianca has grown and developed in her detecting, the feel of Tudor England gains in stature and redolence. In this story, Bianca and John’s good friend Boisvert, the silversmith is to marry, and marry well, the widow of a goldsmith Odile. Plans are being made, good tidings abound and everyone is excited for the upcoming wedding at St. Vedast, until a young pregnant woman is found dead. As the investigations of her death proceed, Boisvert’s wedding approaches, and Odile is suddenly taken ill and dies at the reception: of course Boisvert is the main suspect.
Bianca knows that her friend was not responsible for his new wife’s death, and neither was poison… but she must embrace her new circumstances and fortunes away from her familiar Gull Lane. Moving up to Foster Lane, which houses three guilds and John’s master, her own shop and work is put on hold until a suitable place (and familiarity with neighbors) is found. But the multitude of different murders, not the least of which are Odile’s have her wondering if they are connected, and if she can find the perpetrator and stop future deaths.
There’s been so many changes for Bianca by this point: improved finances, circumstances and successful ends to mysteries, so she’s actually more confident in her abilities, if less settled into her new circumstances. Bright, friendly, determined and surprisingly intuitive, Bianca uses the skills and charms at hand to follow a rather twisted path to the end, gathering facts, evidence and suspicions aplenty. While the mystery is clever and compelling, the story gains tremendous depth from the historic detail and description that show the world Bianca occupies, similar and yet so different from our own, with that bird’s eye view of Tudor England that feels as present as a tree outside your window. Whether historic fiction or mystery is your draw, this is a story and series sure to please many.
This novel - the third in the "Bianca Goddard Mystery" series - wound down the trilogy of alchemy, medicinals, and murder mysteries of Tudor England. In this novel, just as the other two, I'm most impressed by the author's knowledge of this lesser-seen world in Tudor fiction, and I love the way she developed stories that provided a darker, more medical side of the history we love. There were no court scenes, no swooning ladies, no booming King Henry VIII. In fact, this book, out of all three, made the most mention of court life, with a character distantly connected to the already-beheaded Anne Boleyn. This is truly a trilogy of the "unseen" in Tudor England, and this book probably contained the most death, the most mystery, and the most fast-paced action. I enjoyed the character development of Bianca Goddard - even despite her stubbornness and almost cruel way she places her devoted husband, John, on the back burner for her medicinals. I love the unique view into the time period that we get through Mary Lawrence's trilogy, and I am very happy that I was approached to read and review this series for her. I'd highly encourage anyone to seek these books out and dive into a truly fascinating and more different world than what we usually see in Tudor fiction.
At the start of Death at St. Vedast, set in London in 1543, Bianca Goddard and her husband John are moving their possessions from Southwark to London. Boisvert, the silversmith to whom John is apprenticed, is marrying Odile, a wealthy widow, and will live in her home. Bianca and John are to stay, rent free, in Boisvert’s current workshop/residence close by St. Vedast Church. This move is not an unmixed blessing for Bianca. She is a healer by profession. With this move she has lost the space to create the Medicinals and Physickes that she sells, as Boisvert will not allow her to produce her chemistries in his quarters.
Just as they near their destination, Bianca notices a crowd gathering at the church and stops to see the reason. An unknown woman is dead on the stones beneath the belfry. Bianca has a chance to examine the scene and the body before the constable and coroner arrive. The next night also by chance she meets a witness to the woman’s death who describes what he saw and heard. The woman, singing a nonsense verse, moving and behaving oddly, chose to climb the spire despite his pleas, as if trying to touch the moon. He watched helplessly as she lost her grip and fell.
Soon there is another sudden unexplained death preceded by bizarre symptoms and behaviors. Odile dies on her wedding day, at her marriage feast, succumbing after a series of apparent seizures. When Boisvert is arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of murder, Bianca seeks the cause of Odile’s death in order to secure his life and freedom.
Bianca’s investigation takes her and John into unfamiliar territory, as they venture out of London to the village of Dinmow, where reportedly several people had taken sick and died in a similar manner. Much is confirmed when Bianca returns to London to perform experiments on the rats she keeps for that purpose. The mysterious deaths are resolved at last through Bianca’s persistence and some good luck, and Boisvert is set free.
Part of Bianca’s appeal is her fearlessness. She is passionate in her pursuit of truth. Married to John, she values her independence, keeping her name and her vocation even while John might prefer it otherwise.
Mary Lawrence weaves a tale with many twists and turns, steeped in complex forces operating in Tudor England. Stresses among factions within the Bakers’ Company, the Goldsmiths’ Company, the Church and the monarchy create a background for the story and play into the action. English nativism is seen in disrespect shown toward their French “stranger brothers”. Unsurprisingly, disrespect shown toward women is commonplace. The Glossary and the Author’s Note at the end are helpful in clarifying some terms and concepts particular to the period.
I found this work engaging and hope to see more of Bianca in the future.
**I voluntarily read an Advance Readers Copy of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.**
I'm a sucker for anything set during the reign of Henry VIII and also a big mystery fan. So, I was instantly drawn to the Bianca Goddard series.
Death at St Vedast is the 3rd book in the series by Mary Lawrence. The two prior books, The Alchemist's Daughter and Death of an Alchemist, give the background of Goddard's early life with her alchemist father and her knowledge of alchemy and medicinal plants. But it isn't necessary to read the series in order. This was the first book in the series that I read and I was able to understand the characters and enjoy the story. As soon as I finished Death at St Vedast, I went back and read the first two books, as I found the series inventive and intriguing.
Both the historical fiction and mystery genre can easily get into a rut with the same basic plots being recycled again and again with just a change of scenery and niche in history. This series is more than a romp through history with historical characters solving murders. It delves into the forbidden art of alchemy, the darkness of some elements of society and politics during King Henry VIIIs reign, and life during that period. The mystery portion of all 3 books is interesting, well-paced and engaging. In this 3rd installment, Bianca Goddard moves to a better area of London because her husband is employed by Bosivert the Silversmith. But, events turn bad almost immediately. First, a pregnant woman seemingly goes insane, screaming nonsensical things and jumping from the roof of St Vedast. Then Bosivert is accused of murder when his betrothed drops dead at the wedding feast. Bianca has to step in quickly and use her knowledge of forensics and her detective skills to discover what evil is afoot.
This series is well-written and enjoyable. Any fan of historical fiction, the Tudor era and murder mysteries would enjoy reading this series.
This latest book, Death at St Vedast, will be published December 27th by Kensington.
(Thank you Netgalley for an early reader copy, which in no way affected my review)
In "Death at St. Vedast" Bianca and her husband John have moved from her sordid room where she practiced her Physicks and other experiments, into better digs near the home of John's manager, Boisvert, who is wedding the love of his life, Odile. But things aren't necessarily better on the better side of town! First, a young woman, pregnant and barely clothes, runs through the night to climb the bell tower of St. Verdast and ultimately fall to her death. Who was she, and why would she do such a thing? What was the nonsense she was repeating over and over?
Then Odile begins to act strangely, and not seem to notice. Was she poisoned? The question is why is she acting so strangely at times, and at others seem perfectly normal? Then the deaths seem to begin to pile up, and Bianca hears stories of similar behavior and deaths in a nearby town. She and John go to investigate, to try to find what (or who) is causing this strange behavior and what can be done to stop it.
If you read and liked The Alchemist's Daughter, you will like Death at St. Vedast too. I felt that Bianca's character was more fully fleshed out, and there was less emphasis on some of her quirks which weren't really relevant to the story. Her intuition and reasoning as she follows the clues and puts things together is excellent. There are some characters that come over from The Alchemist's Daughter, but don't play a key role; they are set up to do more in a future book. All in all, a really fine effort by Mary Lawrence!
Death at St. Vedast is the third book in the Bianca Goddard Mystery series by Mary Lawrence. When people start behaving in really strange ways and then dying, Bianca investigates to see what is causing these strange behaviors. When Bianca’s husband John’s employer Boisvert, is accused of giving his new wife poison which causes her to act strangely and then die, John becomes involved in helping Bianca. Bianca and John are soon investigating St. Vedast, a nearby village and various Guilds.
This was probably my least favorite in the series. I found the plot hard to follow and was confused about the Guilds, the Brown Baker’s Guild, Goldsmith Guild, etc. I was confused about what exactly they were and what their purpose was and how much power and influence they had in the community. I found Bianca annoying in this book. Especially her lack of care for what her husband thinks and feels. I also felt that the character of Boisvert, who plays a larger part, did not have the same personality as in past books.
I do enjoy this series though. It is a look at what life was like for the common people during the ruling of England’s Henry VIII and how his decisions and ruling affected people
I haven't read #1 and #2, so the Rat Man is a mystery to me; I'm not sure he is really alive and not just a ghost. But #4 per the author's note to the reader will explain all--if I am understanding her correctly. Redemption is the theme of this series so far--and I like the idea that this series is more than just a historical mystery.
That said, in other respects there was no need for me to read #1 and #2--though i shall to be sure. The plot and relationships of the characters are perfectly clear. The protagonist, the alchemist Bianca Goddard, is clearly drawn by the author and very bright and intelligent. Dangerously so in this very patriarchal, suspicious, and devoutly-to-the-extreme world of Henry VIII's London. I kept wondering whether Bianca and her less intelligent husband John would live to be in the next book. The reader will learn much about two important guilds, those of the White Bread Bakers and the Brown Bread Bakers, rivalry, something of Tudor law,the prejudice against the French inhabitants of London, etc., but Lawrence does not overdo imparting the cultural background of the action. And I liked the cat Hobs!
I wasn't thrilled or impressed, I found the book to be rather dull and flat. None of the characters came to life for me, the story itself becoming rather convoluted and disjointed before rounding out to a rather overly complicated finish. The pacing was also ponderous, it took me a while to really get a feel for the story and while it kept going and I felt intrigued, I never felt involved or even rather invested. I liked the premise, but Bianca had no personality. Neither did John. The story and the character seemed at odds with one another, at times being more focused on the what the character could be and at certain points becoming a tangled web of a story. Not my cup of tea. Although, the one redeeming light was the dialogue - very well written, flowed nicely most of the time, and she had a knack for the speech at the time.
What an interesting theme for a murder mystery with a strong female heroine, who happens to be an alchemist, to take place in the 16th century England during the reign of Henry VIII. By looking at the detailed historical information in the book, it seems like the author did a lot of research to be able to describe this specific time period correctly. I liked the story flow, the character development, historical details about the time period, but I find the way Bianca, a poor working class woman, interacts with her husband and upper-class powerful men unrealistic for that time period. I would give this book five stars if the ending were not so sad.
The language was a jumble of modern, made up, and historical as told by the author in the end blurb. I don’t know anything about the period but literacy seemed a long shot for some characters who read labels for Bianca. It had the typical normally intelligent heroine gets in over her head because of ill planned actions -needs to be rescued by romantic partner. The filth theme mud, muck, bawdy jokes, sexual acts, was consistent throughout, but as always, I could have done without the latter. An ok read. I will read book 2.
Imaginative and gripping medical thriller set in the 1500s. The pacing is spot-on and Lawrence creates characters unlike any other author I've read. Indeed, her writing style is quirky, unique, and snidely humorous. I always get through her mysteries within a day or two because I can't put the story down. You will be dumped onto the streets of Tudor London during Henry VIII's reign and you won't come back to the twenty first century until you finish the last page. Amazing book!
This book has a good balance of being different from the other books in the series so far, and continuing the story line and several familiar elements. I believe it stands on its own as well. I found myself relating to the main characters in one scene or another, and pulling for their success and well being. As always, I learned a bit about history while reading it. I look forward to the next one.
I picked this up at the Dollar Tree because I was out of books to read. This was a very interesting book and I liked it. I am sorry that I started with three as I think I missed some things. I plan to go back and read the other 2 before reading any further in the series.
I like to read about this time in history and how people got along with very little in the way of convenience.