Book Review: A Beautiful Poison

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang
4.5/5

Pages: 350
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Synopsis:
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 to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.

As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone—even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.


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This was much more suspenseful and mysterious than I expected. I thought I'd enjoy this book, and my expectations were absolutely exceeded. This book is fantastic. Not only does it have a genuinely interesting mystery plot, with several twists I was definitely surprised by, but it also incorporates excellent use of historical realities. 

It's not often that I read something taking place in this time period, and I've never read a book about the deadly influenza in the US in the early 20th century. There are also issues dealing with the then-unknown radium poisoning, the war, the draft, and "modern advancements" of the time. I can't vouch for how accurate all of the small historical details are, as well as the phrases and words and machines used throughout, but it definitely allowed me to feel transported to another very intriguing era. I felt for every character, doubted them, cared about them, suspected them. I changed my opinion on the outcome of the mystery many times and was still wrong. 

This is a dark book, filled with pain, death, and mystery. But it is kept interesting and engaging by the incorporation of lighthearted characters, mild humorous moments, and a whodunnit fit for any fan of mystery books.

This book started a bit slow, and didn't get me too hooked until about a third or halfway through. From there on, though, it was gripping and I flew through in a few hours. Highly recommended. 

Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Author Website

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