The Poisoned Island
Author of The English Monster takes us on another voyage of discovery from Kew Gardens to the island of Otaheite by way of a murder investigation.LONDON 1812: For forty years Britain has dreamed of the Pacific island of Tahiti, a dark paradise of bloody cults and beautiful natives. Now, decades after the first voyage of Captain Cook, a new ship returns to London, crammed with botanical specimens and, it seems, the mysteries of Tahiti.When, days after the Solander's arrival, some of its crew are found dead and their sea-chests ransacked - their throats slashed, faces frozen into terrible smiles - John Harriott, magistrate of the Thames river police, puts constable Charles Horton in charge of the investigation. But what connects the crewmen's dying dreams with the ambitions of the ship's principal backer, Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society? And how can Britain's new science possibly explain the strangeness of Tahiti's floral riches now growing at Kew?Horton must employ his singular methods to uncover a chain of conspiracy stretching all the way back to the foot of the great dead volcano Tahiti Nui, beneath the hungry eyes of ancient gods.Praise for The English Monster: 'Brilliantly imagined ... evokes such creations as Shardlake and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell' Sun ** 'As rich in ideas as it is in intrigue' Independent on Sunday ** 'A joyously, flamboyantly melodramatic scamper' Guardian ** 'Really gets under the skin of Regency London' Daily Telegraph

The Poisoned Island Details

TitleThe Poisoned Island
Author
ReleaseFeb 28th, 2013
PublisherSimon & Schuster UK
ISBN-139781471100376
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Thriller

The Poisoned Island Review

  • Bill Lynas
    January 1, 1970
    Lloyd Shepherd's second novel sees the return of his marvellous creations John Harriott (magistrate of the Thames river police) & police constable Charles Horton in another seamless blend of fact & fiction. While part of the story is set on the Pacific Island of Tahiti Shepherd still manages to bring 1800's London to life.Some of the story does become repetitive in places & it would have benefitted from a little editing, but his sense of London life from Kew Gardens to Ratcliffe &amp Lloyd Shepherd's second novel sees the return of his marvellous creations John Harriott (magistrate of the Thames river police) & police constable Charles Horton in another seamless blend of fact & fiction. While part of the story is set on the Pacific Island of Tahiti Shepherd still manages to bring 1800's London to life.Some of the story does become repetitive in places & it would have benefitted from a little editing, but his sense of London life from Kew Gardens to Ratcliffe & Wapping cannot be faulted.
    more
  • Beck
    January 1, 1970
    To be honest I persevered with this book!
  • Bibliophile
    January 1, 1970
    Delighted to discover that The Poisoned Island is made of the same stuff as The English Monster: megalomaniacal adventurers go exploring all over "primitive" cultures waving their imperial flag, with chilling consequences. In The English Monster it was Francis Drake and Jamaica, in The Poisoned Island it is Joseph Banks and Tahiti. Banks never actually funded this particular botanical expedition to Tahiti, as he does in the novel, so if you're a stickler for historical accuracy, be warned. I hav Delighted to discover that The Poisoned Island is made of the same stuff as The English Monster: megalomaniacal adventurers go exploring all over "primitive" cultures waving their imperial flag, with chilling consequences. In The English Monster it was Francis Drake and Jamaica, in The Poisoned Island it is Joseph Banks and Tahiti. Banks never actually funded this particular botanical expedition to Tahiti, as he does in the novel, so if you're a stickler for historical accuracy, be warned. I have no scruples when it comes to sullying the reputations of heroes of the British Empire, and enjoyed this immensely. Constable Horton of the Thames River Police is back, with his mad detective skills still underappreciated. His queer ideas about evidence, proof and investigations are scoffed at by the magistrates and police, who prefer to just throw large parts of the Irish population in jail whenever a crime is committed. Horton admirably refrains from slapping these nincompoops and shouting "I AM WAY AHEAD OF MY TIME DAMMIT!", and doggedly pursues his clues. This time, the crimes are connected to Joseph Banks's ship, the Solander, which has just arrived from Tahiti loaded with exotic plants...and evil! Several of the crew are murdered after having imbibed a very special herbal tea. The tea leaves seem to come from one of the plants, which is now thriving in Banks's hothouse. His secretary, Robert Brown, takes one sniff and muses that it smells like ganja. Brown, you naughty boy. It is however considerably more detrimental to one's health than mere cannabis, and Horton gets busy indeed as the bodies pile up. There are some flashbacks to Tahiti, but most of the action takes place in London in 1812. The plot moves along swiftly, but gives the characters enough time to come to life. There are hardly any women in the book, which makes sense I suppose, seeing as women never got to do anything fun in Regency England. It is an easy read, and I mean that in the best way possible, and very entertaining. Those expecting a straight-forward historical mystery should know that there is a supernatural element to it, in case you don't care for that sort of thing. Me, I love it when mysteries, historical novels and what have you are sprinkled with a pinch of the supernatural. It makes everything better. Like cheese.
    more
  • Essie Fox
    January 1, 1970
    Being a historical novelist I tend to read a lot of books that are linked to my own particular genre. But I like my historical fiction to offer something different – and as such I very much enjoy the novels of Lloyd Shepherd.Lloyd Shepherd has written two unique tales in The English Monster and The Poisoned Island - both of which are intelligent and stylishly written, being part historical thrillers, part detective fictions, and part fantasy horrors. Both include actual historical figures in the Being a historical novelist I tend to read a lot of books that are linked to my own particular genre. But I like my historical fiction to offer something different – and as such I very much enjoy the novels of Lloyd Shepherd.Lloyd Shepherd has written two unique tales in The English Monster and The Poisoned Island - both of which are intelligent and stylishly written, being part historical thrillers, part detective fictions, and part fantasy horrors. Both include actual historical figures in the midst of otherwise fictional plots. In the case of The Poisoned Island, which exposes so much of the good and the bad that occurred in the Age of Enlightenment, Lloyd Shepherd lures the reader through the vivid richness of his prose, then introduces him or her to such luminaries of the era as the ‘mad’ King George III, or the corpulent Prince Regent, or the Royal Society’s Sir Joseph Banks.In the case of The Poisoned Island the settings are the exotic but doomed South Sea Island of Otaheite where ancient rites are practiced still, which may or may not be magical. Meanwhile the island’s tropical plants that are deemed to be most valuable are harvested and transported to England by the crew of the Solander. In England the plants are to be preserved in the newly established gardens at Kew. But not all the botanical specimens are what they might appear to be, and when some members of the Solander’s crew are suddenly discovered dead (their throats slashed and yet with a terrible and disconcerting grin still fixed upon their faces), the fictional Constable Charles Horton and his magistrate friend, John Harriet, are employed to find the source of the crime situated at this novel’s heart. Some of the London settings in which their detective work is done can even be visited today - such as in the case of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a notorious tavern off Fleet Street. And, of course, there are the hot houses at Kew where the air is steamy and dripping with moisture - and meanwhile the enthralling plot drip, drip, drips its own slow teasing poison.
    more
  • Bev
    January 1, 1970
    Set in Regency England, The Poisoned Island weaves stories from two voyages to Tahiti (Otaheite to the British at this time) with a tale of what happenes when the H.M.S. Solander returned from that second trip. The first voyage in 1769 brings British sailors to the beautiful island paradise--with gorgeous plant life and lovely women. It is a place where magic and myth still have great influence. When the sailors head back to England, they leave behind disease and a war amongst the Tahitians. Ove Set in Regency England, The Poisoned Island weaves stories from two voyages to Tahiti (Otaheite to the British at this time) with a tale of what happenes when the H.M.S. Solander returned from that second trip. The first voyage in 1769 brings British sailors to the beautiful island paradise--with gorgeous plant life and lovely women. It is a place where magic and myth still have great influence. When the sailors head back to England, they leave behind disease and a war amongst the Tahitians. Over 40 years later, the Solander makes the journey to the island at the request of Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist in charge of the King's Gardens at Kew. The Solander carries a crew of botanists as well as the usual sailors--a crew charged with bringing back hundreds of exotic plants from Tahiti to enhance the royal gardens. Exotic plants aren't the only things that the Solander brings back to England. There is also a terrible secret...a secret that someone is willing kill to possess.The Solander returns to England with her hold full of botanical treasures and in less than a week six members of her crew are dead--some have been strangled and some have had their throats cut, but they all died with the most unsettling, beatific smile on there faces. Thames River Police Constable Charles Horton is called upon by the Thames River Magistrate to investigate the murders. He will have to unravel a botanical mystery involving a pungent, rapidly-growing tree from Tahiti before all the pieces fall into place.Lloyd Shepherd has done an excellent job of historical world-building--weaving authentic historical figures and events into a fictional tale of incredible believability. No--Sir Joseph Banks did not order such a botanical journey, but if he had.... And the underlying reason for the voyage and the secret that made it necessary makes for a very nice twist to the mystery. Charles Horton is an excellent investigator in a world before a truly organized police force. He is feeling his way through detective work--possibly forging ground in evidence gathering and witness questioning beforehand historically, but that's okay. I've already suspended my belief to accept Tahitian magic. Lloyd has also given Horton the perfect spouse to support him in his investigations. She is stronger than he suspects and, in this particular novel, has an interest in botany herself that can be of great help to him.It is a mark of how good Shepherd's novel is that the present tense telling of most of the story didn't keep me from enjoying it. I've noted in other reviews how present tense really doesn't work for me. Generally speaking, it annoys me enough that I'm too busy thinking about how annoyed I am to ever settle down into the world the author has created. Shepherd's story is gripping and his narrative so compelling that while I was aware of the present tense (I think I always will be), it didn't overwhelm my sense of enjoyment. First posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting. Thanks.
    more
  • Ellie
    January 1, 1970
    The Solander docks in London laden with botanical specimens gathered for Tahiti. Sponsored by Sir Joseph Banks, the voyage was a successful endeavour to bring back the island’s hidden treasures to Kew and the Royal Society. When Charles Horton of the Thames river police stumbles upon a murder scene, he is soon to discover the connection between it, and the ship his magistrate, John Harriott, welcomed home just the day before; for the victim is a member of the crew and his death appears more than The Solander docks in London laden with botanical specimens gathered for Tahiti. Sponsored by Sir Joseph Banks, the voyage was a successful endeavour to bring back the island’s hidden treasures to Kew and the Royal Society. When Charles Horton of the Thames river police stumbles upon a murder scene, he is soon to discover the connection between it, and the ship his magistrate, John Harriott, welcomed home just the day before; for the victim is a member of the crew and his death appears more than a simple robbery. When more of the crew are found dead, their expressions grinning horribly, Horton must find the truths of the voyage and once again avoid stepping on the toes of the city police.Although The Poisoned Island follows on from The English Monster, the book works perfectly as a standalone novel. In fact, not knowing the twist of the first book might even be a benefit as I got an idea of what was going early on. I didn’t get it spot on though so there are still surprises and the mystery is only a small part of what is an excellent read with wonderfully evocative descriptions.The streets of the London of 1812 are brought alive and one thing I love about these books are how the places are so familiar even if they have changed somewhat. There is one chapter set in the Cheshire Cheese pub on Fleet Street, which has always been my mental blueprint for urban inns in historical fiction. For those that don’t know, this pub is still in operation today and has not been modernised much (although much cleaner than in those days). Of course, the maritime history of Britain is at the forefront, from the crew to the ship to the implications of exploration and its exploitation.It also puts into context the collections at Kew; now a pleasant break from city life but before was a huge exercise in collecting, cataloguing and keeping alive plants from around the world. We probably imagine botany to be fairly harmless but the British Empire wreaked havoc in its pursuits. The story is littered with mentions of the disease Europeans spread throughout the world. The story starts with a rape of an island woman and goes on to highlight how many were taken advantage of.In contrast, Abigail Horton, who plays a minor role, is a fantastic modern woman for the time. She comes across more intelligent than her husband and is fascinated with the emerging science. She is quietly supportive of his efforts to adopt a different way of policing and she breathes a little bit of compassion into what otherwise could be an incredibly dark tale. It has previously been established that she is unable to have children which allows her to not be the dutiful housewife so many women of her standing would have been.
    more
  • Janette Fleming
    January 1, 1970
    Someone nicely described The English Monster as ‘Regency X-Files.’ Well, this is Regency Fringe.A ship arrives from the strange, doomed island of Tahiti, carrying a cargo of plants destined for the gardens at Kew. But not all the plants are what they seem. And when certain members of the crew are found dead, Constable Charles Horton and his magistrate, John Harriott, must once again dig up the buried crimes of England’s past.http://www.lloydshepherd.com/the-pois...LONDON 1812: For forty years Br Someone nicely described The English Monster as ‘Regency X-Files.’ Well, this is Regency Fringe.A ship arrives from the strange, doomed island of Tahiti, carrying a cargo of plants destined for the gardens at Kew. But not all the plants are what they seem. And when certain members of the crew are found dead, Constable Charles Horton and his magistrate, John Harriott, must once again dig up the buried crimes of England’s past.http://www.lloydshepherd.com/the-pois...LONDON 1812: For forty years Britain has dreamed of the Pacific island of Tahiti, a dark paradise of bloody cults and beautiful natives. Now, decades after the first voyage of Captain Cook, a new ship returns to London, crammed with botanical specimens and, it seems, the mysteries of Tahiti. When, days after the Solander's arrival, some of its crew are found dead and their sea-chests ransacked - their throats slashed, faces frozen into terrible smiles - John Harriott, magistrate of the Thames river police, puts constable Charles Horton in charge of the investigation. But what connects the crewmen's dying dreams with the ambitions of the ship's principal backer, Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society? And how can Britain's new science possibly explain the strangeness of Tahiti's floral riches now growing at Kew? Horton must employ his singular methods to uncover a chain of conspiracy stretching all the way back to the foot of the great dead volcano Tahiti Nui, beneath the hungry eyes of ancient gods.Thrilling, colourful theatrical that is a murder mystery packed with historical detail and a touch of weird.
    more
  • Bettie☯
    January 1, 1970
    (view spoiler)[Bettie's BooksThe star rating, and those book shelves indicate my feelings for this book. (hide spoiler)]
  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    The Poisoned Island combines a mystery, history, and the supernatural. Set mainly in 1811 in London, the place and time move back and forth to preview the incidents that lead to the series of murders plaguing the crew of the ship Solander which has recently docked in London.Several characters are real; Joseph Banks was famous as a naturalist and botanist and accompanied Cook on his first voyage to the South Pacific, including the island of Tahiti. Banks later funded William Bligh's voyage to Tah The Poisoned Island combines a mystery, history, and the supernatural. Set mainly in 1811 in London, the place and time move back and forth to preview the incidents that lead to the series of murders plaguing the crew of the ship Solander which has recently docked in London.Several characters are real; Joseph Banks was famous as a naturalist and botanist and accompanied Cook on his first voyage to the South Pacific, including the island of Tahiti. Banks later funded William Bligh's voyage to Tahiti to gather and transplant breadfruit trees to the Caribbean Islands. Daniel Solander, the Swedish naturalist, and Banks were friends, and Banks was an adviser to George III on the Royal Botanic Gardens. These historical figures and situations figure into the mystery.Thames Magistrate, John Harriott and River Police officer Charles Horton were also real people, and in the novel pursue a killer who has been murdering members of the crew of the fictitious Solander. The purpose of the Solander's voyage was to gather new and exotic plants; included in the cargo is the unique (and supernatural) example of a breadfruit tree that is unlike any of the others on the island. The crew members that are being murdered are associated, but the motive for the murders is unknown. Horton is charged with the investigation, which he diligently pursues. (Harriott and Horton also featured in Shepherd's first novel The English Monster based on the infamous Ratcliffe Highway Murders.)The novel is atmospheric and depicts a London that is scientifically advanced and socially squalid. It is a serious novel that contains no humor; the language and style work well with the period of the early 1800's, and the narrative moves back and forth in time and from one character to another. One important theme is concerned with the way European ships and their crews poisoned many of the places they visited. The physical and mental health of the population, the social system, the religious system, and the environment of Tahiti -- all poisoned.My interest in historical detail frequently sent me to Google to discover which characters were real, what was accurate concerning historic characters, more about Captain Bligh and the Bounty, more about the Kew Gardens, etc. I learned a great deal about events and incidents of which I previously had only a vague knowledge.The supernatural element was a negative for me, and I found it distracting and a bit irritating, but Thames River Police, Magistrate Harriott, and officer Charles Horton were interesting. All of the characters, however, have a distance, an impersonal aspect. The only two characters (and they are extremely minor) with a real sense of presence or warmth, are the wife of the Solander's captain and Abigail, the wife of Charles Horton.In a way, I found the novel both impressive and tedious. Although I am writing this in August, I will schedule the post for a month before release.NetGalley/Washington Square PressHistorical Mystery/Supernatural. Jan. 14, 2014. Print Version: 432 pages.
    more
  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 StarsLloyd Shepherd's The Poisoned Island takes place primarily in London in the early 19th century, although parts of the narrative are also set in Tahiti. The story concerns the return from Tahiti of the Solander, a ship sent to the island to transport native plants back to London, and her crew. Almost immediately upon the ship's return, however, crew members start to turn up dead. While their deaths don't appear to be related to foul play, police officer Charles Horton investigates them n 3.5 StarsLloyd Shepherd's The Poisoned Island takes place primarily in London in the early 19th century, although parts of the narrative are also set in Tahiti. The story concerns the return from Tahiti of the Solander, a ship sent to the island to transport native plants back to London, and her crew. Almost immediately upon the ship's return, however, crew members start to turn up dead. While their deaths don't appear to be related to foul play, police officer Charles Horton investigates them nonetheless. Horton soon discovers that there is much more to the deaths than meets the eye, including linkages to a mysterious Tahitian plant. The mystery in this novel unfolds slowly and from various character's perspectives. While some readers might find these changes in perspective jarring, I think it worked very well for this particular novel as it heightens the sense of intrigue and leaves the reader guessing as to the possible explanation for the deaths right until the final pages. Aside from being an intriguing mystery, one of the greatest strengths of The Poisoned Island is how vividly the settings are described. As a result, both 19th century London and Tahiti come to life for the reader.Another strength of the novel is its skillfully drawn characters, whose narratives readers should find interesting. Charles Horton, the novel's protagonist, is particularly engaging and I enjoyed how he applied newly developed detective/ investigative techniques to his work. Several of the characters in the book, including Charles Horton, were first introduced in The English Monster, a mystery dealing with England's infamous Ratcliffe Highway murders. I wasn't aware prior to reading The Poisoned Island that it was a follow-up to an earlier book. While The Poisoned Island can be read as a stand alone novel, it does include a number of references to events in The English Monster and it is apparent that Charles Horton was much affected by them. The inclusion of these references didn't diminish my enjoyment of the mystery found in The Poisoned Island, but I did sometimes feel as if I was missing important background information. Overall an entertaining and well-written novel, The Poisoned Island is recommended to fans of historical mysteries. I'm looking forward to reading more from Lloyd Shepherd, including The English Monster. Source: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. This review first appeared on my blog, Confessions of an Avid Reader.
    more
  • Felicity Gibson
    January 1, 1970
    The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd Read 7th April 2014Reading this novel was like holding a writhing snake well away from your body; you want to let go and yet you cannot in case it comes after you! I needed to know what happened. It is basically a detective story.The plot is a combination of mystery, history and the supernatural - set in 1811, London. The novel is atmospheric and depicts a socially squalid London. The ship ‘Solander’ comes into London docks from Tahiti, carrying a cargo of b The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd Read 7th April 2014Reading this novel was like holding a writhing snake well away from your body; you want to let go and yet you cannot in case it comes after you! I needed to know what happened. It is basically a detective story.The plot is a combination of mystery, history and the supernatural - set in 1811, London. The novel is atmospheric and depicts a socially squalid London. The ship ‘Solander’ comes into London docks from Tahiti, carrying a cargo of botanical specimens; these are due to be sent to Kew gardens.Suddenly some of the returning crew members are murdered in mysterious circumstances . A secret is hinted at. More and more characters are introduced. Some of the characters are for real; Joseph Banks a famous naturalist and botanist. He funded William Bligh’s voyage to Tahiti to gather and transplant breadfruit trees to the Caribbean Islands. Throughout this entire book I felt overloaded with names;so many names started with the letter ‘H’. It was a bother to sit and think about whom who was. It is a disquieting read, uncomfortable and mysterious. It contains little humour but the style worked well with the period of the early 1800’s. The narrative moves back and forth in time and from one character to another; I found these characters distant and impersonal. Forgive me but this book was a tedious read and yet it had a mystery about the murders and deaths of the returning crew of the 'Solander' that I needed to solve. I eventually let go of the serpent and will honestly say that I did not enjoy this book as much as I expected to. Maybe I needed to read Lloyd Shepherd's previous book about the River Police? I award this book 3 stars.
    more
  • kate
    January 1, 1970
    A good book, with elements of magic that don't seem completely unrealistic. A ship returns from Otaheite (Tahiti) with a group of sailors sharing some kind of secret. This group starts being killed off in a strange manner, which attracts the attention of Thames River Police Constable Charles Horton (identified incorrectly in the synopsis as "Thames River Police Chief"). Horton is a new kind of policeman, one who is interested in "investigation" and "evidence". This brings him into conflict with A good book, with elements of magic that don't seem completely unrealistic. A ship returns from Otaheite (Tahiti) with a group of sailors sharing some kind of secret. This group starts being killed off in a strange manner, which attracts the attention of Thames River Police Constable Charles Horton (identified incorrectly in the synopsis as "Thames River Police Chief"). Horton is a new kind of policeman, one who is interested in "investigation" and "evidence". This brings him into conflict with some of the other keepers of the peace, but with the support of his boss (the actual Thames River Police Chief, referred to here are a magistrate) John Harriott, Horton looks into this rash of bizarre killings. The action switches back and forth between London and Tahiti, and offers an interesting view of one of the farthest corners of the British Empire, and the struggles that ensued in the decades after the arrival of the British. Real historical persons are depicted in a reasonable enough way, and the mystery portion is solid, if not spectacular.(view spoiler)[I though the ending was a bit too pat, with a written letter explaining why and how it all happened, and the antagonist dead and out of the reach of justice. Still, it was a decent conclusion which didn't take too much away from my enjoyment. (hide spoiler)]I think my main issue is with the anachronism of handwriting comparison and modern investigation techniques. I don't have the same problem with mysteries set in ancient Rome, medieval Ireland, or Elizabethan England, though. Maybe it's just because it's so close to the rise of modern forensics that I was a bit irked. Maybe I'm just being picky because I'm a history nerd.Overall, I enjoyed this, and will try to find his previous book, The English monster.
    more
  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    First of all I should perhaps make clear that I havent read "The English Monster" which precedes this novel but it did not detract from my enjoyment of "The Poisoned Island" one bit.LONDON 1812: For forty years Britain has dreamed of the Pacific island of Tahiti, a dark paradise of bloody cults and beautiful natives. Now, decades after the first voyage of Captain Cook, a new ship returns to London, crammed with botanical specimens and, it seems, the mysteries of Tahiti.When, days after the Solan First of all I should perhaps make clear that I havent read "The English Monster" which precedes this novel but it did not detract from my enjoyment of "The Poisoned Island" one bit.LONDON 1812: For forty years Britain has dreamed of the Pacific island of Tahiti, a dark paradise of bloody cults and beautiful natives. Now, decades after the first voyage of Captain Cook, a new ship returns to London, crammed with botanical specimens and, it seems, the mysteries of Tahiti.When, days after the Solander's arrival, some of its crew are found dead and their sea-chests ransacked - their throats slashed, faces frozen into terrible smiles, John Harriott, magistrate of the Thames river police, puts constable Charles Horton in charge of the investigation.The way I would describe this novel in one word is "Rich". The prose is terrific and draws you straight into another world. Characterisation is top notch and as someone who doesnt really "do" historical fiction I was immediately hooked. The streets of London live in this book - familiar places but with an unfamiliar way of living, the sense of place is amazing. The mystery is intriguing...and although I know absolutely nothing about this period in History it all felt very authentic.Its difficult to review this book - another one where almost anything you would love to say will probably include spoilers...I think I'm just going to leave with this. If you are looking for something highly intriguing, a little bit different to the norm and have an interest in History then this one is for you. Certainly, although I am late to the party, I shall be picking up a copy of "The English Monster" soon. Nicely done Mr Shepherd.Thanks to the author and publisher for the copy of this book via netgalley.Happy Reading Folks!
    more
  • Carole
    January 1, 1970
    At the start of the book we are introduced to some of the crew of the Solander who have recently returned from Tahiti. Their ship contained hundreds of exotic plants all destined for Kew Gardens. One of them is Sam Ransome who 'enjoyed the delights of the island', and who, upon reaching his lodgings, immediately puts the kettle on and makes himself a cup of tea and is 'blissfully happy'. Unfortunately for Sam he is found strangled soon after but with a huge smile on his face!More of the crew are At the start of the book we are introduced to some of the crew of the Solander who have recently returned from Tahiti. Their ship contained hundreds of exotic plants all destined for Kew Gardens. One of them is Sam Ransome who 'enjoyed the delights of the island', and who, upon reaching his lodgings, immediately puts the kettle on and makes himself a cup of tea and is 'blissfully happy'. Unfortunately for Sam he is found strangled soon after but with a huge smile on his face!More of the crew are found murdered in a similar way and constable Charles Horton is struggling to find a motive, a killer or a possible connection to their deaths.This is an intelligent and well written story with interesting characters. Lloyd Shepherd's earlier book The English Monster also features Horton and his boss, John Harriott, and several references are made to those murders in this book.If you like your historical murder mysteries with atmosphere, well developed characters and an unusual plotline slowly unfolding like the leaves of some mysterious tropical island plant, then I would recommend you add this to your bookshelf. From Carole's Book Corner
    more
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    The English Monster was one of the most extraordinarily curious (in a good way) historical novels I read last year. I wondered what The Poisoned Island, set not long after the events of its predecessor, would have in store for me. The answer is a novel that I enjoyed even more than The English Monster. Far more confident, with a structure that made it easier for me to empathise with characters and events, The Poisoned Island is a thoroughly fascinating and gripping look at the more sinister side The English Monster was one of the most extraordinarily curious (in a good way) historical novels I read last year. I wondered what The Poisoned Island, set not long after the events of its predecessor, would have in store for me. The answer is a novel that I enjoyed even more than The English Monster. Far more confident, with a structure that made it easier for me to empathise with characters and events, The Poisoned Island is a thoroughly fascinating and gripping look at the more sinister side of the famous Georgian sea journeys of discovery as well as the more suspect origins of the great botanic collections of Kew Gardens.This is not my favourite period of history, far from it, but if there's any author that makes me want to know more about it, it's Lloyd Shepherd.
    more
  • Anthony
    January 1, 1970
    This is an excellent follow up to Lloyd Shepherd's terrific debut novel The English Monster. The story revolves around the mysterious deaths of six members of the ship The Solander which has returned to London in 1812 . The Solander arrives from Tahiti laden with exotic specimens. The Solander mission has been sponsored by Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society and as the conspiracy unravels it takes some sharp twists and turns. Readers who enjoyed The English Monster will once again be cast unde This is an excellent follow up to Lloyd Shepherd's terrific debut novel The English Monster. The story revolves around the mysterious deaths of six members of the ship The Solander which has returned to London in 1812 . The Solander arrives from Tahiti laden with exotic specimens. The Solander mission has been sponsored by Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society and as the conspiracy unravels it takes some sharp twists and turns. Readers who enjoyed The English Monster will once again be cast under the spell of this great follow up Regency thriller.
    more
  • Joan
    January 1, 1970
    This is the second book in the Constable Charles Horton series. Lloyd Shepherd's books, besides being good detective stories are very good descriptions of life in and around the area of the Wapping Docks in the early 19th Century.
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the most boring books I have ever read. It needed to be really edited down by at least 50% as there was so much extraneous material that added absolutely nothing to the story. The characters were bland and blah. The plot was so obvious that a child could have figured it out.
    more
  • Kristin Melvin
    January 1, 1970
    Such an appealing plot and so INCREDIBLY boring. I had to force myself to finish this just to be sure there was not a surprise ending. Nope.
  • Kim Becker
    January 1, 1970
    I kept thinking I may give this a 4 star rating, but did not...because the mystery/thriller storyline fizzled at the end, and because of the depiction of female characters in the book. The writing is fantastic. Really loved the description and character development. It was seamless and flowed very well. However, the women in the book were insultingly written. Even though the story was set in the 17 and 1800s women could have been described differently and still would have been true to the histor I kept thinking I may give this a 4 star rating, but did not...because the mystery/thriller storyline fizzled at the end, and because of the depiction of female characters in the book. The writing is fantastic. Really loved the description and character development. It was seamless and flowed very well. However, the women in the book were insultingly written. Even though the story was set in the 17 and 1800s women could have been described differently and still would have been true to the historical time period. Women were harping, fat, dirty, lying, or whores...and the one attractive female was married to the main officer character. She was the "Madonna". The largest female character is a tree. And she was power and beauty and fantasy. But got the least amount of development.
    more
  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    It was okay. Interesting enough to keep me reading but the end was a disappointment. The author builds the surroundings and the story line but the plot twist is, in my opinion, not that much of a twist hitting the reader from out of left-field with little in the way of support through the telling of the tale. A snippet here, a snippet there and bingo... here's the murderer. I guess it's better than novels that put so much backstory into the story that you know who did it before you know what the It was okay. Interesting enough to keep me reading but the end was a disappointment. The author builds the surroundings and the story line but the plot twist is, in my opinion, not that much of a twist hitting the reader from out of left-field with little in the way of support through the telling of the tale. A snippet here, a snippet there and bingo... here's the murderer. I guess it's better than novels that put so much backstory into the story that you know who did it before you know what they did.... but it's not one that I'll be reading again.
    more
  • Santhi Moine
    January 1, 1970
    Loved every bit of it
  • John Coleman
    January 1, 1970
    Historically and botanically off piste ..... but a good enough yarn to keep me going till the end
  • Todd
    January 1, 1970
    At a time when the average temperature across America is a balmy negative 300 degrees, it was a nice change of pace (and scenery) to read Lloyd Shepherd's The Poisoned Island, which partially takes place in Tahiti.  It was an altogether warmer and intriguing story that kept me from thinking about the chills outside!From Goodreads: LONDON 1812: For forty years Britain has dreamed of the Pacific island of Tahiti, a dark paradise of bloody cults and beautiful natives. Now, decades after the first v At a time when the average temperature across America is a balmy negative 300 degrees, it was a nice change of pace (and scenery) to read Lloyd Shepherd's The Poisoned Island, which partially takes place in Tahiti.  It was an altogether warmer and intriguing story that kept me from thinking about the chills outside!From Goodreads: LONDON 1812: For forty years Britain has dreamed of the Pacific island of Tahiti, a dark paradise of bloody cults and beautiful natives. Now, decades after the first voyage of Captain Cook, a new ship returns to London, crammed with botanical specimens and, it seems, the mysteries of Tahiti. When, days after the Solander's arrival, some of its crew are found dead and their sea-chests ransacked - their throats slashed, faces frozen into terrible smiles - John Harriott, magistrate of the Thames river police, puts constable Charles Horton in charge of the investigation. But what connects the crewmen's dying dreams with the ambitions of the ship's principal backer, Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society? And how can Britain's new science possibly explain the strangeness of Tahiti's floral riches now growing at Kew? Horton must employ his singular methods to uncover a chain of conspiracy stretching all the way back to the foot of the great dead volcano Tahiti Nui, beneath the hungry eyes of ancient gods. The Goodreads description doesn't do this book justice; Shepherd packs so much imagery and description into his prose that my imagination had to work overtime to keep up.  I could only imagine the Solander's arrival, laden with a multitude of colors and scents as it pulled into the docks of dreary London.  This was the backdrop for a creepy murder mystery, where all of the victims were found with looks of pure delight frozen on their faces as they were brutally murdered.  The constable appointed to look into this mystery is Charles Horton.  I took an immediate liking to him, as his natural inclination to investigate connected with me intellectually, and the fact that he is an all-around good guy didn't hurt either.  As these were the days before detective work was commonplace, Horton is forced to do much of his work alone and in secret.  What's more, his wife is inadvertently pulled into the fray, making the level of suspense even higher.Additionally, Shepherd doesn't just keep us confined to London, as we travel to Tahiti itself and get to view the mystery from the point of view of a young prince.  This added another level of complexity to the story, as this point of view begins to intersect with those of Horton, Horton's boss, the magistrate of the River Police, and the proprietor of the Solander herself, Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society.  With all of these characters so expertly depicted and developed, it was easy to fall right into the story from the first page.  My only complaint is that Shepherd got slightly too descriptive at times, which made things lag slightly.  Other than this, Shepherd has written a solid work that makes me excited to check out his other novel, The English Monster.Todd (Reflections of a Book Addict)Originally Posted: http://wp.me/p18lIL-2kT
    more
  • Cathy Cole
    January 1, 1970
    Once again Lloyd Shepherd has written a deftly plotted and richly detailed book that will bring all your senses to life. Part murder mystery, part social commentary, The Poisoned Island is filled with creepy atmosphere, intriguing characters, and one very puzzling mystery. Although Harriott and Horton appear in Shepherd's previous book, The English Monster, both books can easily be read as standalones. In The Poisoned Island, there are several flashbacks to past voyages to Tahiti, especially in Once again Lloyd Shepherd has written a deftly plotted and richly detailed book that will bring all your senses to life. Part murder mystery, part social commentary, The Poisoned Island is filled with creepy atmosphere, intriguing characters, and one very puzzling mystery. Although Harriott and Horton appear in Shepherd's previous book, The English Monster, both books can easily be read as standalones. In The Poisoned Island, there are several flashbacks to past voyages to Tahiti, especially in 1769. The island, the weather, the native people, the plant life... everything has combined to form a paradise that lives on in the minds of those who have been there-- and once they've been there, they want to go back. Unfortunately the fabric of Tahitian life is ripped apart as European customs and behaviors spread like poison. But Tahiti isn't the only island that has been poisoned.Constable Charles Horton is a marvelous character who feels tainted by his past, but he's found the perfect wife to love and support him-- and she isn't the frail flower that Horton likes to think she is. Horton has also fallen on his feet with his employment. Magistrate John Harriott has had the foresight to see that policing is changing; it's no longer a matter of merely having a police presence to deter villains, men who are capable of investigating crimes are the people who are needed now. Charles Horton is the perfect man for Harriott's needs, even though almost every other magistrate in London would heartily disagree.It's a pleasure to watch these characters walk the streets and dockyards of a London that seems straight out of Dickens. Sights, smells, sounds-- Shepherd knows how to immerse readers in them all. He also knows how to put together a fascinating mystery. At first, none of crime scenes make sense. It appears that all the victims were killed in their sleep. They have huge smiles on their faces, their throats have been slashed, and their sea chests have been gone through. But how can the killer have gotten into or out of their lodgings without being seen-- and why were none of their wages taken? Horton's investigation takes him from boarding houses to pubs, from the Solander to Kew Gardens, and many other places besides, and as he begins to piece things together, he realizes that the seeds of murder were sown in faraway Tahiti.If I have anything negative to say about this book amidst its rich language, atmosphere, plot and characterization, it's that the pace bogs down repeatedly. As it is, I can recommend The Poisoned Island wholeheartedly. If it had been trimmed and tightened a few degrees, I'd be singing and dancing and thrusting copies of it in your hands. Ah, do it anyway-- I can still feel those Tahitian breezes caressing my skin and feel the chills running down my spine as I walk the London docks at night.
    more
  • LitReactor
    January 1, 1970
    The Poisoned Island is immersive and addictive. The world is so vivid and well-built, it is hard to put down. And since the story is a murder-mystery, with layers of history and fact woven together with a healthy dose of magical realism, there's suspense, too, to keep you invested.The writing is spectacular. The words drip with charm and grace. I loved letting the language carry me away, even in its crudest moments, with the roughest rabble-scrabble of 19th century London. There's no denying tha The Poisoned Island is immersive and addictive. The world is so vivid and well-built, it is hard to put down. And since the story is a murder-mystery, with layers of history and fact woven together with a healthy dose of magical realism, there's suspense, too, to keep you invested.The writing is spectacular. The words drip with charm and grace. I loved letting the language carry me away, even in its crudest moments, with the roughest rabble-scrabble of 19th century London. There's no denying that this is a well-written book, with an engaging tale to tell.But I take issue with The Poisoned Island on two levels. In the first place, there were so many characters, introduced in such close succession at the very beginning of the story, each with such similar names, I needed to write myself a cast list to keep them all straight. This is a minor complaint, to be sure, especially knowing the characters were often pulled from reality, but still. The beginning was quite confusing, what with Horton, Harriot, Hopkins, Banks and Brown all showing up in the first few pages. I felt like I'd taken a wrong turn into Dr. Seuss-ville for a moment or three.My second issue is the bigger one, and it is this: women are almost entirely absent from the story, which would probably be less offensive if the few women included weren't flat, one-dimensional caricatures. There's the island princess, raped in the book's opening scene, who disappears and comes back as a devious spirit, the quintessential vengeful bitch archetype. There's Abigail Horton, held up on a pedestal by her husband as the very picture of perfection. And the thing is: she is perfect. Smart, gentle, content to keep herself company with her books while her husband spends days and nights away from home. She's a working man's wet dream, and she's so unrealistic it hurts. And then there's Mrs. Hopkins, the sea captain's wife, loyal and dutiful to the end, even when...well, I can't tell you that because it would be a spoiler. But none of the three women mentioned in the book were at all believable, so pigeon-holed were they. Even though London of old was apparently a man's world, women did exist, and I doubt they were all so...fake.So while I did often enjoy this book, in the end I'm conflicted. Can I recommend a book that seems to devalue my entire gender? Am I being oversensitive? I'm not sure of the answer to either question, so I'll close it with one for you: what are your thoughts? Have you read the story, and if so, am I being unfair? I'd love to know what you think!--Review by Leah RhyneCheck out more from this review at LitReactor (http://litreactor.com/reviews/booksho...)!
    more
  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    The Poisoned Island is the stand-alone sequel to The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd. We left magistrate John Harriot and constable Charles Horton in January 1812 and now we are back in June 1812 where the Solander returns from a sea voyage bringing back home a cargo of plants and flowers from the green Paradise Tahiti, or Otaheite as it is called back in Regency England. When only a few days later a couple of the crew members are found murdered under strange circumstances we begin to suspect The Poisoned Island is the stand-alone sequel to The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd. We left magistrate John Harriot and constable Charles Horton in January 1812 and now we are back in June 1812 where the Solander returns from a sea voyage bringing back home a cargo of plants and flowers from the green Paradise Tahiti, or Otaheite as it is called back in Regency England. When only a few days later a couple of the crew members are found murdered under strange circumstances we begin to suspect that the good ship Solander brought home more than just pretty shrubbery for Sir Joseph Banks green house at Kew. Constable Horton is on the spot investigating, questioning and getting frustrated but slowly piecing the puzzle together. This time around his wife Abigail gets involved by coincidence and sees a part of his life that he usually is very careful to keep away from her. This trail of events and the feelings involved for the both of them allows us a further glimpse into the troubled past, personality and motivations of this complex character of Charles Horton. So just as slowly as he pieces together the puzzle of a murder mystery, we get handed more pieces to get to know him and also his smart and warmhearted Abigail. While I found myself a little frustrated with the chapters changing back and forth between time and place in The English Monster, I find this structure flowed smoothly this time around and kept my attention fully. We don't move around in time so much, but from place to place, the perspective shifting between various persons involved in the Solander and the surrounding mystery and horror. The story works well with the central mystery interwoven with interesting characters and carried by excellent writing. As with the previous book there is again an underlying theme of greed and the exploitation of other people and their land. Tahiti isn't a paradise any longer, but is much transformed by the visiting Englishmen. Deeds done cannot be undone and the impact whirl out of hand with unforeseen and widespread consequences.All in all, I really enjoyed the book, and I found more flowing and even paced than The English Monster. Quite the page turner. I look forward to more mysteries and meeting the main characters again, Harriot and also Aaron Graham, but especially Charles and Abigail. Even though the ending and the little preview in the back of the book suggests these two are facing troubled times...
    more
  • Elizabeth Lloyd
    January 1, 1970
    The Poisoned Island is Otaheite, or Tahiti as we know it better, in the year 1769, but the story moves quickly on to the River Thames in 1812 where the ship “Solander” returns from the paradise of Otaheite, with hundreds of plants preserved carefully by Captain Hopkins for delivery to Sir Joseph Banks the famous botanist at Kew Gardens.It has been a successful trip and the sailors in particular had found their time in Otaheite very rewarding. The new plant specimens are welcomed by Banks and his The Poisoned Island is Otaheite, or Tahiti as we know it better, in the year 1769, but the story moves quickly on to the River Thames in 1812 where the ship “Solander” returns from the paradise of Otaheite, with hundreds of plants preserved carefully by Captain Hopkins for delivery to Sir Joseph Banks the famous botanist at Kew Gardens.It has been a successful trip and the sailors in particular had found their time in Otaheite very rewarding. The new plant specimens are welcomed by Banks and his learned librarian, Scottish botanist, Robert Brown. But some of the sailors carry a lethal secret whose repercussions will effect Banks, Brown and even king George III.Lloyd Shepherd describes the streets, grand houses and hovels of Georgian London vividly. We walk from place to place or cross the river alongside his characters.The book is primarily a murder mystery which is investigated by John Harriott the resident magistrate of the River Police, based in Wapping, aided by his skilful constable Charles Horton. One after another, sailors from the “Solander” are found dead in mysterious circumstances with no apparent motive. Meanwhile, Banks and Brown are astounded by the rapid growth of a breadfruit tree which had been brought back in the ship, after they planted it in warm conditions at Kew.The murder scenes are gruesome and the extra knowledge given to the reader does not make the identity of the killer any easier to spot. Abigail, independently minded wife of Charles Horton, becomes entangled in danger and a strange mixed race clergyman from the “Solander”, Peter Nott is the first suspect.This is not a fast moving, action packed mystery but the story of a determined, meticulous detective in an era when such murders were easily dismissed and when the wrong culprit could so easily be incarcerated in a corrupt prison such as Coldbath Fields. The historical details add so much to our involvement in the narrative.Lloyd Shepherd has chosen to mix real facts about the historical figures with a story he has created which could possibly have happened to them, which I found delightful. Some may find it a little long-winded but I relished the background knowledge which he incorporated into his novel. This is the second of three books about the River Police although it works perfectly as a stand alone novel.
    more
  • Linda Baker
    January 1, 1970
    The Poisoned Island opens in 1769 on the South Pacific Island of Otaheite (Tahiti) with a young Joseph Banks chasing and ravishing an island princess. This encounter sets off a series of events which come to horrific fruition in 1812 England. Now Sir Joseph, eminent botanist and friend to royalty, Banks has financed a second expedition aboard the Solander to Tahiti. The ship has brought back many specimens; one of which has the potential to destroy the growing Empire. The island has long captiva The Poisoned Island opens in 1769 on the South Pacific Island of Otaheite (Tahiti) with a young Joseph Banks chasing and ravishing an island princess. This encounter sets off a series of events which come to horrific fruition in 1812 England. Now Sir Joseph, eminent botanist and friend to royalty, Banks has financed a second expedition aboard the Solander to Tahiti. The ship has brought back many specimens; one of which has the potential to destroy the growing Empire. The island has long captivated the imagination of the English, but interaction has brought only death and destruction to the islanders through disease, alcohol, firearms, and civil conflict. Thames River Police Constable Charles Horton is called in when six of the Solander crew are found brutally murdered, all with fixed smiles on their faces. Meanwhile at Kew Gardens, frightening changes are taking place in one of the specimens, both alarming and elating Banks.Though entirely fictional, The Poisoned Island features many historical figures and events, even references to the Bounty mutiny. One of the things I enjoy most about historical fiction is that it often challenges me to refresh my memory of half-remembered facts such as the career of Banks and my college courses in Botany. There is a wealth of information on life in Georgian England, especially maritime life, empire building and policing. My only difficulty with The Poisoned Island lies in the fact that I have not read The English Monster, which introduces Charles Horton. He is a compelling character whose motivations and tensions I would like to understand better so a reading of the previous book is a must, at least for me. The Poisoned Island can certainly be savored as a stand-alone, however.I highly recommend The Poisoned Island to lovers of historical fiction with mystery and a dash of the unexplained. Thanks to Atria and netgalley.com for an advance digital copy.RATING- 4.5 Stars
    more
  • Albert
    January 1, 1970
    The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd is a tense atmospheric Victorian Murder mystery. It is well written and deftly plotted. The characters are suited to their time and setting. Shepherd plays the air of English superiority heavily in the interaction with the islanders, even with the crew who are obviously uneducated and working class. The sailing vessel the Solander has arrived in London after a voyage to the island of Tahiti in June of 1812. Aboard it brings home a treasure of botanical oddit The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd is a tense atmospheric Victorian Murder mystery. It is well written and deftly plotted. The characters are suited to their time and setting. Shepherd plays the air of English superiority heavily in the interaction with the islanders, even with the crew who are obviously uneducated and working class. The sailing vessel the Solander has arrived in London after a voyage to the island of Tahiti in June of 1812. Aboard it brings home a treasure of botanical oddities. Plants unknown to the British but their rarity is immeasurable in value. The highest minds want to study them but the voyage was funded by Sir Joseph Banks and he has his own plans for the bounty the ship has brought. Banks does not just have the desires of science in mind, no he has something else in mind altogether.It is not only the plants that come ashore from the Solander, but murder as well. As one by one a group of sailors die. "You have no thoughts yourself?" "None at all. The man's neck was bruised, I am told, confirming the analysis of strangulation. But he had a confoundedly happy grin on his face, which struck Horton as most odd. He seems to have died happy, in any case." Graham, ruefully, looks at his fork. "We should all like to die happy," he says. "Indeed. But what does an illiterate sailor with grim lodgings and a fat old mistress have to be happy about?" "I sometimes think an ordinary life would be more desirable than the one I lead."It is something else the Solander has brought back from Tahiti than just exotic plants. It is a leaf when brewed becomes a powerful opiate. It is up to Constable Horton to unravel the mystery and the murderer before the danger reaches him or his family.The Poisoned Island is a well crafted mystery that at times may be slow but still moves along at a good pace.
    more
Write a review