Item description for The Blackheath Poisonings : A Victorian Murder Mystery by Julian Symons...
Symons won the Edgar Award, the Gold Dagger Award, and the Diamond Dagger Award Wealth can have its drawbacks. Case in point: The Collard and Vandervent families, who for decades have shared a large estate in the elegant London suburb of Blackheath. It's now the 1890s, and over the years, the families' near-incestuous entanglement has grown into a toxic web of lies and bitterness. While Mama keeps an iron grasp on the purse-strings, an unmarried daughter sucks greedily on her own disappointment, a son raises corruption to an art form, and an ethereal daughter-in-law casts come-hither glances at anything in pants. She casts them frequently at young Paul Vandervent, who responds by filling his journal with fevered love poems. And when one member after another of the extended clan falls victim to "gastric misadventure" -- and his beloved falls under suspicion --Paul embarks on an equally feverish quest to clear her name, resolving to solve "the extraordinary series of crimes popularly called The Blackheath Poisonings."
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 7.5" Weight: 0.75 lbs.
Release Date Dec 15, 2005
Publisher Felony & Mayhem Mysteries
ISBN 1933397160 ISBN13 9781933397160
Reviews - What do customers think about The Blackheath Poisonings : A Victorian Murder Mystery?
Good Plot, Intriguing Victorian Courtroom Drama Oct 22, 2006
It is the early 1890s. The Collard and Vandervent families, descendants of Charles Mortimer, a prosperous toy manufacturer, live in two eccentric mansions originally built decades earlier by Mortimer in Blackheath, a suburb of London. Each week they join together for Sunday lunch at one home or the other. Despite this tradition, there is little love or friendship between or within these families. Within a matter of months, three people die of arsenic poisoning.
Julian Symon's account has an authentic flavor, leaving the reader uncertain where history ends and fiction begins. Police investigations unexpectedly reveal notorious family secrets, ones that would shock not only Victorian sensibilities, but would be unseemly and disturbing today. The pace is somewhat slow initially as Symon's develops the background and personal relationships, but with the death of Roger Vendervent from questionable food poisoning, suspicion shifts rapidly from one to another. The plot becomes quite engaging; I was especially intrigued with the courtroom drama. Four stars for The Blackheath Poisonings.
The Blackheath Poisonings was produced in 1993 as a dramatic serial on the PBS Masterpiece Theatre and is now available on DVD.
Julian Symons (1912-94) was best known for his thirty or so mystery novels and some half-dozen short story mystery collections. He also wrote social, literary, and military biographies, poetry, and book reviews. In his long career he won the prestigious Edgar Award, the Gold Dagger Award, and the Diamond Dagger Award. In 1976 Julian Symons was elected the President of Great Britain's Detection Club, a position previously held by notables like G. K. Chesterton, E. C. Bentley, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Agatha Christie.
a surprisingly good Victorian-era murder mystery... Jun 4, 2006
'The Blackheath Poisonings' has the feel of a classic Victorian-era murder mystery, ala Wilkin Collins material, with somewhat more modern touches, ala Agatha Christie. Yes, we have multiple poisonings afflicting a morosely interwoven extended family. The "whodunnit?" theme runs through most of the book. Thankfully the ending is a nicely crafted surprise, and it's all quite plausible.
Unfortunately the book is a bit dialog heavy; it sometimes feels more like a play or a television script. And the early sections where the author explains how all the characters are interrelated is a bit tedious. Thankfully these are relatively minor quibbles in this well-plotted story.
Bottom line: a better example of its genre. Far from a classic, but a good read.