cover image The Alchemist’s Daughter

The Alchemist’s Daughter

Mary Lawrence. Kensington, $15 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-61773-710-7

Set in London in 1543, Lawrence’s serviceable first novel inaugurates a new Tudor mystery series starring Bianca Goddard, an alchemist’s daughter. Jolyn Carmichael, an impoverished young woman who’s been suffering from stomach pains, seeks a remedy from her friend Bianca at Bianca’s “room of Medicinals and Physickes” in Southwark. When Jolyn dies after drinking the potion that Bianca prepares for her, the local constable suspects Bianca of murder. To avoid the gallows, Bianca must prove that someone poisoned Jolyn before coming to her for help. Some readers may find Bianca, who believes “most people were responsible in some way for their predicaments,” less than sympathetic at times. Those hoping for an independent lead will be disappointed that she has to be rescued from peril twice by her love interest. Awkward prose doesn’t help (“plying the waters beneath the galleon floats a humble wherry steered by one not of the stuff of man but of something else”). Agent: Fred Tribuzzo, Rudy Agency. (May)