Review: The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick

perfect poisonReviewed by Janell

For my next foray into borrowed paperbacks, I read my first ever Jayne Ann Krentz book (Amanda Quick is a pen name). First to my adult knowledge, that is; it’s possible that I read one in my murky past of random books, but it didn’t stick. You know what? She’s a pretty good writer! Who knew? Besides the millions of people who’ve already read her, I mean.

The Perfect Poison is an Arcane Society Novel. Late in the reign of Queen Victoria, the Arcane Society was full of people with psychical gifts, meaning they could control thoughts, or manipulate appearances, or — in the case of our heroine Lucinda Bromley — detect any poison and have a knack for botany. Lucinda assists the local police in murder investigations, determining whether a victim has been poisoned, and with what.

While at the scene of a murder, Lucinda detects a poison that could only have been made with a certain fern that had recently been stolen from her conservatory. Not wanting to be accused of murder, Lucinda enlists Caleb Jones to find the real killer. Caleb has a psychical gift to solve puzzles, his intuition is impeccable, and he has recently opened a detective agency for inquiries with a psychical angle that the police can’t handle.

The thing about Lucinda is, she’s an on-the-shelf old maid because her father, father’s partner, and her fiancé all died mysteriously, with suspicion pointing right at her. She’s got a reputation, which grants her more freedom than a young debutante might have. And the thing about Caleb is, he obeys the rules of society only when he needs to bend them to his needs. He’s obsessive with his work, which makes him seem obsessive to everyone else. He also believes he’s slowly going mad.

During the course of their investigation, Lucinda and Caleb get on quite well. Then this happens:

“You are the distraction, Lucinda. I have never known anyone who could disorder my thoughts the way you do.”

“That does not sound like a compliment.”

“It was not intended as a compliment. It was a statement of fact. Furthermore, I do not think I will be able to concentrate well until I know for certain that you find me to be equally distracting.”

I thought that little exchange was hot. Caleb is stuffy and analytical and using the only language he has to express his feelings, and it made me flutter. His dry wit was just my style, too. Lucinda is just about the only person to recognize it, and when she calls him out on an attempt at humor, he responds, “I have no sense of humor. Ask anyone.”

The plot involves rich men and apothecaries and secret societies, but there’s also plenty of humor and romance. There’s even a side romance, as Lucinda’s cousin comes to town to use a matchmaker and find a husband who is psychically compatible with her.

Lucinda was smart and tough, my favorite kind of heroine. And Caleb was stodgy and delightful. They made a delightful pair, and I think I’m going to look into more Arcane Society novels because this author keeps things fast-paced, interesting, and romantic.

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Perfect Poison
by Amanda Quick
Release Date: April 21, 2009
Publisher: Putnam Adult

 

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