In Victorian London, England, close to the end of the 19th century, a young artist unravels what he believes to be the formula for immortality and raising the dead, prescribed in an ancient tome: Alchemy
Just when he cracks the secret code for the final components of his elixir, his mistress and inspiration, dies. His life is devastated, his mind fragile, destroyed by drugs. He knows he has the power to revive her. But obtaining the last ingredients means resorting to murder, taking innocent lives.
He just has to decide whose.
I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.
Historical fiction and legal thrillers are two genres I like to read, so when I realised that this book is a combination of both, I couldn't wait to read it.
Guilty or Innocent? Set in Victorian London, Alchemy is actually a courtroom drama. Young Jacob Silver, a genius apotechary and artist is in the dock standing trial for murder. The first chapter is the beginning of the trial, where some horrific evidence is unveiled. From then on, through the various witnesses in court, we go back in time and relive the events that have led Jacob to court.
All commences with an ancient tome: Alchemy, donated to young Jacob for his birthday. Within this tome, a five-hundred-year-old riddle is waiting to be solved and someone is convinced that the young genius is capable of finally breaking the code that has eluded scholars for centuries - finding the missing ingredients for the elixir of Immortality. Will he succeed? How did his quest end up in murder?
The first chapter was gripping enough to engage the reader, but then it took me quite a while to feel really drawn into the story, and I found myself fighting an urge to skim through the text - something I've never done. Looking back, I think this happened because the actual murders start taking place about halfway through the book and it's at this point that the story gains momentum. Up to that point I didn't find myself adequately engrossed, however I persevered and now I'm just glad I did as I enjoyed the second half of the book much more.
I really liked the 19th century London setting of this book. I'm sure it must have required extensive research. I particularly enjoyed the courtroom scenes. I think they're brilliant. The prosecution and defence questions were very realistic and I felt as if I was actually there in the gallery with the rest of the audience viewing the proceedings and anxiously waiting for the final verdict. Will Jacob be found guilty or innocent of the accusations made against him? Will his incredible account of events stand and save him from the gallows?
The final twist of the story was totally unexpected. The ending left me wanting more and I was happy to note that a sequel will be out soon. I'm really looking forward to know what happens next.
About the Author
A former murder squad detective in England, Chris was often the lead-detective in murder trials. No stranger to murder and the macabre, he was a regular contributor to British True Crime television series. He has maintained an interest in criminology his entire adult life.
In 2006 he moved from England to Mallorca, a beautiful Spanish island in the Mediterranean, where he is a keen yachtsman.