A brilliant young police officer discovers a series of bizarre deaths are connected to the cargo of a research vessel bound for Kew Gardens in this fantasy-tinged historical thriller set in early nineteenth-century London.
London 1812. On a dull, gray June morning, the Solander, a ship containing breathtaking plants and natural specimens brought back from Tahiti for the Royal Gardens at Kew, slowly pulls into dock under the watchful eyes of London denizens.
The apparently successful expedition soon takes on a horrid—and inexplicable—turn: the crew of the Solander starts dying one by one. Thames River Police Chief Charles Horton can find no signs of murder or suicide to explain the deaths, and the ship’s surviving crew, which has made a pact to remain tight-lipped about its voyage, further hampers his investigation. Meanwhile, one of the specimens begins to show frightening changes, forcing Horton to wonder just how “natural” they might be…
Tahiti 1769. English sailors arrive on the shores of the French Polynesian paradise—a place of breathtaking natural beauty where magic and ancient myths are alive and well. The island nirvana, however, soon starts to disintegrate as the explorers devastate the land with disease, death, and war. But what they carry back with them aboard the Solander fifty years later is far deadlier—and it is in the hands of Charles Horton to determine exactly what it is and how it might be stopped.
Lloyd Shepherd, the highly praised author of The English Monster, takes you into the bustling heart of the British Empire, where there seems to be no limit to what England will conquer. But what England took from Tahiti will come at a high price, one that will descend like a curse on the very soul of the London docks.
“A spirited evocation of an era when roving botanists could also be blithe sexual predators, and 'savages' could be both admired and exploited... Georgian London is vividly brought to life... A gutsy, involving yarn.”
“I loved it. Very stylish, very ingenious, and very well written.”
“Shepherd adroitly blurs fact and fiction with a hint of the fantastic, creating his own superior blend of historical crime fiction.”