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‘Vivid, pungent and perilous’ CHRIS BROOKMYRE

‘Evocative…brilliant plotting’ REBECCA GRIFFITHS

An intricate and darkly atmospheric thriller set in Victorian London, perfect for readers of Elly Griffiths’ The Stranger Diaries, Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions and Stuart Turton’s The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Summoned to the riverside by the desperate, scribbled note of an old friend, Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain find themselves on board the seamen’s floating hospital, an old hulk known only as The Blood, where prejudice, ambition and murder seethe beneath a veneer of medical respectability.

On shore, a young woman, a known prostitute, is found drowned in a derelict boatyard. A man leaps to his death into the Thames, driven mad by poison and fear. The events are linked – but how? Courting danger in the opium dens and brothels of the waterfront, certain that the Blood lies at the heart of the puzzle, Jem and Will embark on a quest to uncover the truth. In a hunt that takes them from the dissecting tables of a private anatomy school to the squalor of the dock-side mortuary, they find themselves involved in a dark and terrible mystery.

Praise for E.S. Thomson:

‘It’s rare that a book is Gothic enough for me, but Beloved Poison is killing it. The blood, the bones…’ LAURA PURCELL

‘Complex, harrowing and highly enjoyable’ DAILY EXPRESS

‘Marvellous, vivid . . . breathtakingly dark’ JANET ELLIS

‘Jem Flockhart books are the best I’ve read in years’ KIRSTY LOGAN

‘A marvel . . . thoroughly engrossing’ MARY PAULSON ELLIS


ES Thompson's Jem Flockhart books are the best I've read in years. Jem is just my kind of heroine: scarred, smart, complex, and unapologetically queer
Kirsty Logan, author of <i> The Gracekeepers </i>
Dark Asylum positively oozes gothic menace, and the author's evocation of the city at that time is visceral and engagingly morbid . . . A first class piece of historical crime writing
Doug Johnstone, Big Issue
A historical novel to be savoured
Lesley McDowell, The National on Beloved Poison
From its grime-crusted back alleys to its blood-spattered operating tables, The Blood emanates atmospheric appeal. Victorian England, in all its smog, lace and polluted waters, is compellingly conjured in every sentence, giving the setting not only a historical bent, but a macabre horror aesthetic as well. Meanwhile, Jem, who seems to pace the pages with flurried intellect as well as desperation, is a refreshing twist on the Sherlock Holmes archetype. Disguised as a man to get ahead in her career and seeking her long-lost love, Jem provides the otherwise plot-driven book's contemplative moments that strengthen larger themes of gender, power and ambition. Featuring a feminist Sherlock Holmes in a Dickensian setting, The Blood delivers quick pacing and satisfyingly grotesque set pieces.
Alice Martin, Shelf Awareness
This outstanding debut historical enthrals with its meticulously researched details
Library Journal on Beloved Poison
Here's a tale of Victorian London to freeze your blood on a cold winter's night
Alex Gordon, Evening Telegraph on Beloved Poison
. . . a tale of darkest London in the 1850s. This fine novel, featuring a most unusual detective, blends Victorian melodrama and historical reality
Sunday Express
You can almost feel the evil miasma rising from the page
Kirkus Reviews on Beloved Poison
Beloved Poison is a marvellous, vivid book with a thoughtful, engaging protagonist at its centre - and a fascinating story to tell. It's immaculately researched and breathtakingly dark. Elaine Thomson's descriptive powers are so great that that I was surprised to see twenty-first century London rather than grimy, smelly St Saviour's around me when I - eventually - looked up from its pages
Janet Ellis, author of <i> The Butcher’s Hook </i>
Jem Flockhart is a marvel. Cautious yet daring, a pursuer of the truth yet steeped in deceit herself, she is the best kind of detective - flawed, clever, conflicted, principled and determined to get to the bottom of whatever mystery comes her way. Her latest foray into the filth and grime of 1840s London is an atmospheric dissection of prejudice past and present set aboard a decaying hospital ship. With snakes, pox, strange tattoos and the scent of Henbane in our nostrils, this vivid journey into the dark side of the human soul is a thoroughly engrossing tale.
Mary Paulson Ellis, author of <i> The Other Mrs Walker </i>
Jem Flockhart's London is vivid, pungent and perilous. The Blood takes you to places you will love to picture but be grateful you can't smell
Chris Brookmyre
Dark and vividly imagined, this Jem Flockhart mystery captures the squalor of Victorian London as it tells an engrossing story of medical misdeeds
Choice Magazine
Meticulously researched and masterfully plotted, E S Thomson has written a complex, harrowing and highly enjoyable tale.
Daily Express
Following on from the events of acclaimed debut Beloved Poison, Dark Asylum vividly portrays the Gothic horror and questionable science of Victorian mental asylums in chilling detail. Meticulously researched and masterfully plotted, E.S. Thomson has written a complex, harrowing and highly enjoyable tale
Daily Express
It's rare that a book is Gothic enough for me, but Beloved Poison is killing it. The blood, the bones, the crumbling hospital . . .
Laura Purcell, author of <i> The Silent Companions </i>
Love evocative descriptions of Victorian London and brilliant plotting? Then grab a copy of this!
Rebecca Griffiths, author of <i> The Primrose Path </i>
I hugely enjoyed E.S Thomson's The Blood . . . mesmerising . . . evokes the sights and the smells of the seedy dockland area brilliantly. Her protagonist Jem Flockhart is an inspired invention - a female apothecary disguised as a man, whose life and loves are as complex a secret as the cases she investigates
Sally Magnusson
From the first page to the last, I enjoyed every brilliantly written, and often hideous, detail ... A splendid read
Cambridge Magazine on Beloved Poison
Deliciously dark and vividly atmospheric, menace oozes from every page. Terrific for lovers of historical noir