Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Beautiful Poison” as Want to Read:
A Beautiful Poison
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Beautiful Poison

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  12,106 ratings  ·  1,055 reviews
Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement t
Paperback, 350 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Lake Union Publishing
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Beautiful Poison, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
John McCaskill I got this from kindle as a Kindle First book which is one of the included services in Kindle Prime.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,106 ratings  ·  1,055 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Beautiful Poison
Diane S ☔
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 The Gilded Age, Manhattan 191, the night of Allene's engagement party, and things have taken a horrible turn. A young woman is found dead, at the bottom of the stairs, a woman many did not like. Was it an accident as it appears on murder? The police think accident, a decision aided by Allene's father, who wants only to avoid a scandal.

When they were younger Jasper, Birdie and Allene had been inseparable, great friends who shared in all kinds of adventures. Now at eighteen things are very dif
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lies come so easily whether you are rich or you are poor. Not even a penny for your thoughts. But, eventually, you may pay with your life......

Manhattan seems to dazzle at the elegant Cutter mansion here in 1918. Allene Cutter and her fiance, Andrew Smythe Biddle, are celebrating their engagement in New York style. Long time friends Birdie Dreyer, Jasper Jones, and Ernie Fielding surround the young couple and champagne glasses are held high. But the laughter is quickly drowned out by a tumble an
Nenia ✨️ The Trash Empress ✨️ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

I love the title of this book. It reminds me of Halestorm's amazing ballad, Familiar Taste of Poison , and if this book ever gets picked up to become a Netflix series, that would be an amazing opening credits song. A BEAUTIFUL POISON is also a great story. I'm slowly but surely becoming obsessed with Lydia Kang, who works as a doctor when she's not penning original fiction. They say that authors should write what they know, and Kang f
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written book that makes no sense. I'm not quite sure how to rate it. I really enjoyed my first read-through. I liked the author's writing style and found her imagery very lovely. The story takes place in an interesting era, and as a historical fiction, I think it's quite an enjoyable read. And when I got to the twist at the end, my first reaction was positive. It was interesting and dramatic and not an outcome I had been anticipating. So then I reread the whole book (it's a ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars
I do love a good mystery!

Lydia Kang's A Beautiful Poison takes place in 1918. Incorporated into the story are interesting historical elements such as the beginnings of forensic medicine, the 1918 influenza pandemic, and factories employing women to paint dials with radium.

With the first page opening immediately with a murder, this book grabbed my attention right away - and didn't let go. Perfect for mystery/historical fans.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
All the poisons!
This was interesting. I felt the book wasn't quite sure what it wanted to be- a mystery? A convoluted love story? A story of friendship?
I did not find the main trio of characters likeable- a trio once friends in childhood and reunited at an engagement party. There follow a string of deaths which unite the three in trying to solve the murders. I was scared at this point that it was going to turn into an Enid Blyton "three solve a murder", but the story takes a darker turn as we ge
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I think that this book was a bit all over the place for me to get a very good handle on. We have a lot of characters whose motivations we are not too sure of throughout the book. I think that Kang was trying for some tension to build about who was the murderer, but it was telegraphed at least to me pretty early about who was doing what. I will say that I was a surprised by the ending. I thought for sure that two of the characters were being set up to run away together, so that was a pleasant sur ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

My Kindle First pick for July, I normally do not read historical fiction- but the other choices did not interest me at all. This book was interesting and entertaining.

There is an odd trio of friends trying to solve some suspicious deaths of friends and relatives, this is all occurring during the great flu epidemic. The book reflects the time period, where woman were discouraged from scientific pursuits - but Allene forges ahead. The ending was quite surprising. Overall, a very
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kept waiting for the pace of A Beautiful Poison to slow down and get boring, and it never did oblige me. I have this (unreasonable) (unsubstantiated) expectation that historical fiction = slow and quiet, but this book was NOT that. Mayhap I should rethink my assumptions?

Lydia Kang has plucked from history the perfect setting for a murder mystery: 1918 New York City, during the influenza pandemic. Because what better way to cover up the fact that you’re poisoning a bunch of people than to do it
Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

A Beautiful Poison is set during WWI amidst the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918. For a good portion of the book I didn't like the three characters that this novel follows, and
Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'm rounding this book up from a 3.5 star rating to a 4 because it's definitely better than my standard 3 star rating but not quite a 4.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book. I felt like it was more than the routine mass market murder mystery and I definitely was kept in suspense and didn't guess the murderer at all. In fact, I probably suspected every other character but I'm not giving anything away!

Also, I liked how although the story is focused around these murders there is more going on wit
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

A murder mystery set in New York during the Gilded Age. When three childhood friends meet again (after several years separation) to celebrate the engagement of one of the friends a dark plot begins to emerge around them. Their loved ones fall victims to poisoning, and each time the deaths are accompanied by a note stating "You're welcome." The three friends take on the position of amateur sleuths to solve the crimes, but as tensions rise can their newly rekindled friendship survive the
This. Book.

I've just finished it and am really in a bit of awe over it.

The writing was impeccable. A tight plot with just the right amount of red herrings, solid writing, distinct characters with fascinating relationships, and some of the best historical anchoring I've come across in all my years of reading.

There were two things that I had figured out/correctly predicted, but neither of them were related to the core plot of the murder mystery, which left me feeling wholly satisfied with this nov
May 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
It was an okay story, unfortunately I didn´t really get into it and was tempted to save myself some time and just jump ahead. The pace picked up at the end though, there were quite a few plot twists that I hadn´t expected and the book ended on a positive note for me.
As for the audio, I quite enjoyed the narrator`s voice and her interpretation of the characters.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star
Mini Review: A well plotted murder mystery set in the underutilized time period of the Gilded Age, the first book I've read from that period. While I thought the writing was pretty good and the mystery intriguing, so much of this book revolves around a love triangle. The characters obsess over each other constantly, but they also seemed so bitter towards each other. If a historical murder mystery sounds interesting to you and you're okay with love triangles, I do think this book has a lot to off ...more
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Descriptively well written. I particularly enjoyed the sections on medical pathology, and the historical aspects appeared accurate (although I'm by no means an expert in this field). I liked the descriptions on upper class social life during this time, and the brief insight into the medical history of New York. I would have liked more of this, as the research behind it was obviously done with care and thought.

The overall plot is o
This book ended up redeeming itself a little bit in the end, but all the characters were such complete asshats in the beginning I almost put it down. For example:

Jasper, a main character, on girls: "Like sticks of chewing gum, their sweetness lasted for only so long before he no longer wanted them."


Allene, the privileged young lady who never has to worry about anything, apparently: "There was something odd about the proportion of men to women. She narrowed her eyes. Oh. So many young men ha
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Whilst I liked the style of writing the plot was crazy. The ending was so far fetched it was laughable
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I was very excited to read this book. Soon after starting it the excitement turned to confusion, which then morphed into mild loathing... Of the characters. The writing is pretty superb. The story while dragging a bit here and there, was full of twists and turns. The big twist in the end shocked me, and the second to last death scene was brutal but satisfying.

Back to the characters. None of the main characters were likable until the last third of the book. The story is told from their di
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
my focus and mood are not great at the moment, so this was a very good choice as a quick-reading distraction. i really enjoyed the era and the science and medical aspects of this novel, as well as all the flawed characters. (so. many. flaws. heh!) but i found it all a little bit... twee? maybe? there were some pretty clunky moments and the red herrings were too obvious. yet it was still a good bit of fun.
3.5 stars I wrote a review of this book right after I finished it. It was a wonderful review. It was a great review. But I wrote it on my phone and then chaos happened and it was lost. This is the second time I am writing this review and it won't be as good. I want to say what I said in the first review, so that keeps running into the flow of what I am saying now and it's going to be a mess. But, it will be a review.

Before I started reading as many books as I do now, I was a book snob and tended
I won a Kindle copy of A Beautiful Poison from a Goodreads Giveaway.

I'm not a fan of historical fiction but the blurb intrigued me; if its a murder mystery, I'll give it a whirl!

I needed a few days to consider how to write a review for this book because the tone was so odd, I would call it disturbing and not in a good Tim Burton kind of way, but more of an Eli Roth kind of way.

The basic premise isn't complicated: a young woman dies unexpectedly at the engagement party of socialite Allene and
Jamie Canaves
Historical Mystery (TW suicide/ pedophile–not graphic)

I loved Kang’s last novel, The Impossible Girl, so as soon as I finished that I went looking for more of her writing–and now I have a new author to love. This is set in New York in 1918 and follows three childhood friends, who have lost touch, brought back together to solve a murder. Allene is wealthy, engaged, and bored–so clearly the one who wants to play detective. Birdie is working at a factory, struggling to feed her little sister, and J
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
More like a 3.5 for me.

A Beautiful Poison is a wonderfully written book that examines all the situations we get ourselves into. There is an element of choice, but also almost a destiny-esque feel to it. The whole book sort of unfolds and you find yourself being welcomed into the mystery. A Beautiful Poison revolves around a circle of friends. There has been time passed and no one is really who they used to be. But one fateful night changes their lives forever. Some secrets can’t stay buried. Th
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Mysteries are a cerebral read for me but this one was an exception. There are 3 main characters, childhood friends, around the age of 18 years old. One of them is Birdie, and she grips you from the beginning and is an emotional investment. She is beautiful and striking but wise and tragic beyound her years. There are alot of people dying in this book - murder, influenza, radiation poisoning and other unexplained ailments. It's a well set story and a mystery and my thanks to my good read friend K ...more
Olivia (The Sarcastic Sapphic)
CW: rape (prior to the story, but mentioned) and suicide

What a good book to start the year with.

I loved Lydia’s Control duology and was curious to see how she’d handle something in an entirely different genre. I wasn’t disappointed. This was an intriguing historical fiction, set in a period I’ve yet to read about, accompanied by a gripping murder mystery.

There’s often talk of whether we as readers prefer character- or plot-driven stories. It’s a wonderful thing to find a book with both. The stor
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Three childhood friends that were torn apart by changes in social status are reunited at Allene's engagement party. A murder takes place at the party, setting off a chain of murders of people associated with the three friends. Mysterious notes saying "your welcome" are left with the bodies. Allene, Birdie, and Jasper agree to work together to find out who is responsible, but each of them has their own motivations and time is running out for one of them.

I didn't like this one as much as The Impos
Lauren Davis
Fun. A pleasant and well-researched read. Good for an afternoon by the fire or in the hammock, depending on season.
Lauran Vetuschi
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While darker than I anticipated, I thought this was a great historical mystery. The writing was well done and I felt like I was walking right along side Allene and Jaspar. Just the right amount of twists and turns to keep me guessing and I love how Ms. Kang incorporated the history and the science. I'll definitely be reading more by Ms. Kang.
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Loved the backdrop in this book. World War I (with the reader knowing it’s nearing its end... but not the characters). The dreadful influenza reaching American shores and starting a war all of its own. Socialites in their own little world, feeling the bigger world as an intrusion that may or may touch them (whether draft or flu). Murders in those ‘higher spheres’, with the reminder that with a little money, nobody will try and look further. The
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Glamourist (The Vine Witch, #2)
  • The Last of the Moon Girls
  • The New Witch
  • The Pearl King (Crow Investigations, #4)
  • The Vine Witch (Vine Witch, #1)
  • The Caretakers
  • Golden Poppies
  • Spirited
  • Interviewing The Dead (Carlyle & West Victorian Mysteries #1)
  • The Bone Jar (Detective Lew Kirby, #1)
  • The Killer On the Bell Tower
  • Find Me (Inland Empire, #1)
  • Edinburgh Midnight (Ian Hamilton Mysteries #3)
  • A Murderous Inheritance (The Discreet Investigations of Lord and Lady Calaway #3)
  • Sorry I Missed You
  • The Viscount's Deadly Game (The Discreet Investigations of Lord and Lady Calaway #2)
  • Where the Lost Wander
  • The Haunting of H. G. Wells
See similar books…
I love salt more than chocolate. I'm somewhat small, yet deceptively strong. Sort of like an ant.

I'm a part time doc, full time family member, and if you offer me snacks, I'll be a friend for life.

My adult fiction centers around historical mysteries in New York City, with splashes of forensics, anatomy, apothecary medicine, and chemistry! A BEAUTIFUL POISON takes place in 1918 at the height of th

Related Articles

As this strange summer of staying put winds down, one thing remains truer than ever: Books offer us endless adventure and new horizons to...
51 likes · 29 comments
“Somewhere in the world at that moment, there was a birth, a death, a sunrise, and a sunset. There was despair, and a burst of laughter, a promise broken, and a vow made.
And there was this kiss.”
“She had the sort of beauty that left you bleeding internally after gazing for too long.” 3 likes
More quotes…