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A Beautiful Poison

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  8,765 Ratings  ·  792 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
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John McCaskill I got this from kindle as a Kindle First book which is one of the included services in Kindle Prime.

Community Reviews

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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
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a slow building murder mystery with a heavy theme in the sciences.

With a count of about seven or eight characters introduced within the first few pages of the book, I had to put this one down and pick it up at another point when I could really concentrate. A fellow reviewer recommended taking notes, which I definitely think would have helped, however reading shouldn't really be this confusing!

I enjoyed the references to chemistry and medicine, the book was well written, and I definitel
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.
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
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
Taryn Pierson
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
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
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
Euge Fontana
Abandonado al 6% de la lectura. La forma de escribir de la autora me resulto demasiado pretenciosa y los personajes hablaban y pensaban como si estuvieran en el Siglo XXI a pesar de que el libro está ambientado a finales del 1800. Tiene una premisa interesante, pero sólo dos capítulos fueron suficientes para confirmar que esta historia no es para mí.
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
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
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
2.5⭐ ...more
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
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
Maygin at Not Quite a Literary Critique
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
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
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.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Lauren Davis
Fun. A pleasant and well-researched read. Good for an afternoon by the fire or in the hammock, depending on season.
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
I'm full of conflicted feelings right now. I really wanted to love this one, but more than one aspects of it just fell flat. Still enjoyable, but closer to 3 than 4 stars.
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think overall I was disappointed with this book. I was really looking forward to it. I felt it had so much potential but during the first half I was kind of bored. It picked up during the second half and I was interested in finding out the identity of the murderer and I will admit I didn't even suspect it to be who it was, but it was still rather anticlimactic. I knew it had to be someone in the circle, but it could have been any one of them for any number of reasons and all it would have felt ...more
Mary (Marbear)
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lydia Kang is a master of mystery and suspense. This is my first time reading her books. Thanks to Lake Union for an advanced copy of the book. We meet Allene, a rich socialite; Her husband to be Adam (from a rich family); Birdie and Jasper, two old friends that were banished from her life for four years. They all come together again at Allene's engagement party. By the end of the evening one guest is dead. This is the first death in a string of mysterious deaths. The four friends notice that th ...more
Max Baker
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you Netgalley for providing me a free review copy in exchange for an honest review

I love murder-mystery stories and I've been on a sort of historical kick recently. That coupled with my love of potions, poisons, and beautiful covers, made Lydia Kang's book leap to the top of my TBR list. And, you know what? I really enjoyed it. Like, a lot.

The book follows three characters, Allene, a socialite with a passion for chemistry, Jasper, a wanna-be doctor, and Birdie, a lower-class girl working i
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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 debut is an historical forensic mystery, entitled A BEAUTIFUL POISON from Lake Union Publishing. My second book, THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL, arrives September 2018.

I have a nonfiction adult b

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“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.”
“Funerals should be between a single person (dead) and a single person (alive) and ought to involve a discussion that no one else should hear. Should” 2 likes
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