The Perfect Poison
Putnam, Apr 2009, $24.95
In late Victorian England, Inspector Spellar prevails upon notorious lady botanist Lucinda Bromley to find out if Lord Fairborn was murdered or died from a heart attack. The inspector has psychic powers that enable him to see the minutest clues at a crime scene; Lucinda has the ability to detect poison. She applies her skill and determines that Fairburn was poisoned with one of the ingredients being something she picked up when she went to the Amazon with her parents.
A member of the secretive Arcane Society, Lucinda calls on their detective agency, Caleb Jones. She explains what happened and they realize Dr. Basil Lindsey stole the poison and is trying to duplicate the founder’s formula to enhance psychic powers. They broke up his lab and took away his material, but he found a new employer who allows him to pursue his research. Lucinda wants to bring him to justice before she is accused of killing Fairburn as many in Polite Society are mindful of her notoriety due to the tabloids holding her culpable for her fiancé’s death. The longer Caleb and Lucinda work together, the greater their attraction grows; but he fears his psychic skills will turn him mad like his ancestor if he is not already a lunatic.
As expected from Amanda Quick, the author writes an exhilarating historical romantic suspense that is filled with a strong cast, terific twisting plots and a sense of time running out that grip the audience with a need to know the outcome in one sitting although it is a back story. Caleb is a rational person who never allows emotion to interfere with his thought process except when Lucinda is near (think of classic Spock using logic except during the Amok Time episode when emotions forced him to go home). Lucinda is a free spirit not concerned with Polite Society, which already condemned her for her vocation and her fiancé’s death. Together they make a great Victorian sleuthing duet.