cover image The Poisoned Island

The Poisoned Island

Lloyd Shepherd. Washington Square, $16 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-4767-1286-4

Memorable prose, tight plotting, and complex characters distinguish Shepherd’s follow-up to 2012’s The English Monster. In June 1812, the Solander, a “nondescript ship containing wonders,” arrives in London, bearing the fruits of a major botanical expedition to Tahiti. The discoveries prove to have more than scientific implications when members of the crew start turning up dead with smiles on their faces, even after being strangled or having their throats slit. The task of solving the crimes falls to Charles Horton, of the Thames River Police, whose methods have already been successful in a number of cases—notably the Ratcliffe Highway murders six months earlier. The involvement of the Royal Society president, naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, who sent the Solander on its mission to the far side of the world, makes the investigation a politically sensitive one. Shepherd’s use of the present tense lends an intimate immediacy to the action. Agent: James Gill, United Agents (U.K.). (Jan.)