Reviews

Review of The Secret Poisoner in Times Literary Supplement 22 April 2016

‘Linda Stratmann makes a fine job of chronicling the cat-and-mouse contest between poisoners on the one hand and science and the law on the other.  . . . she has provided plentiful notes and an excellent bibliography. As a result, social historians whose focus is less on the ghoulishly fascinating, and more on the wider context and consequences, are well served, too.’

The Secret Poisoner reviewed in the Guardian

‘ . . . horrifying cases are set out in macabre detail by Linda Stratmann in her new book The Secret Poisoner: A Century of Murder. They make you goggle at the inhumanity people are capable of when the incentives are there and the means at hand.’

The Secret Poisoner

From the Times, 12 March 2016

Corpse after dreadful corpse piles up in this gruesome account ...’The Secret Poisoner is a seriously nasty book, and I suppose that’s a compliment. If you like gruesome death and the history of toxicology, then it appears comprehensive.’

Mr Scarletti’s Ghost

I love Linda Stratmann’s writing. Her descriptions of Brighton are so sharp and vivid you can smell and taste the city on every page.

Peter James, author, Dead Like You

Chloroform: The Quest for Oblivion

This book is both a scientific and a social history, skilfully woven together and full of the most fascinating detail. I unhesitatingly recommend it.

Anthony Daniels, Daily Telegraph

Chloroform: The Quest for Oblivion

Chloroform: The Quest for Oblivion, is a serious book on a difficult medical subject but its fluent, crisp and vivid style makes it a delight to read. I immensely enjoyed reading it and am sure that laymen and physicians who read it will share my pleasure. I highly recommend it to both.

Professor Ray J. Defalque, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Alabama

Chloroform: The Quest for Oblivion

Stratmann has put together a cast of Dickensian characters: mad scientists, eccentrics, charlatans, quacks, psychopaths, murderers, femmes fatales (literally), and opportunists; and woven them into a heady tapestry of innovation, 19th and 20th century medicine, wars, religion, intelligence and forensics, crime and sex.

British Journal of Anaesthesia 92(2) 299-300 (2004)

Essex Murders

These are not only famous cases, but previously unpublished tragedies…..Several of the stories keep the reader guessing until all the evidence is gathered in.

Heritage Focus Magazine August 2004

The Poisonous Seed

The Victorian heroine of this detection story is Frances Doughty who certainly lives up to her name! She faces a home and work situation of great difficulty even before an unfortunate incident precipitates an inquest. I found the position of the Victorian unmarried female clearly shown with all its problems. Frances is working in her father’s chemist’s shop but she has no qualifications despite considerable experience due to her brother’s prolonged illness and death. Her father has been devastated by the death and is only gradually resuming work. When a customer dies from strychnine poisoning the dispensing of the relevant medicine must be investigated.
Frances fears a miscarriage of justice will lead to blame and decides that she will investigate. The limitations on a respectable middle class female’s activities become very clear but she manages to investigate regardless. Her questioning of servants, interrogation of the police and checking of documents leads her into the throes of a different and distant crime. The story twists and turns effectively until a series of denouements reveals all.
This is the first novel from Linda though she has written a number of nonfiction books on historical true crimes. Her knowledge of the London area in which the Victorian Frances lived is detailed and cleverly given in a way that avoids any tedium. I feel that I am walking down the street in Frances’s company and seeing the people and houses around me with clarity. We are firmly fixed in time and place as this very Victorian crime is dissected.

Jennifer S Palmer

The Poisonous Seed

Every novelist needs her USP: Stratmann’s is her intimate knowledge of both pharmacy (she is a former chemist’s dispenser) and true-life Victorian crime, about which she has written several non-fiction books. I predict that this new calling will win her many new readers and admirers.

Helen Bettinson

The Daughters of Gentlemen

Frances Doughty steps out again, to find that her detecting skills may enable her to find an independent place in the world. along with her trusty maid, now elevated to companion and apprentice detective, and a mixed bag of informants, she sharpens her wits on a problem that starts out as a merely finding the author of a pamphlet, and then escalates into a maddening whirl of deceit and death.

I found the beginning a bit slow, but was also aware that I was being gently sucked into Frances’ world, and was reluctant to leave it. When the action takes over it becomes rollicking fun, in a sedate pristine way. I so enjoyed the moment when Frances decides that if she wants to be able to vote, and have responsibilty for her own affairs, she could at least climb over the fence in front of her! You have to read it to appreciate it.

I read this in two days which is pretty good for me. There are elements of other female detectives in here and at times I was reminded of dear Precious anglicised and transported back to Bayswater in the Victorian era. What is interesting is the development of Frances’ character from relative naivety to becoming more politically and social aware of her place and role in society. But a hoot none the less, a good read, and now waiting for the next volume.

Janet Dowling, Professional Storyteller.

The Daughters of Gentlemen

If Jane Austen had lived a few decades longer, and spent her twilight years writing detective stories, they might have read something like this one. …there is something very Austenesque about the quiet, clever writing, the subtle humour and the measured pace in which what appears to be a comedy of manners, sparked by an apparently trivial incident, becomes an increasingly disturbing tale of intrigue, deceit and wickedness. … Stratmann writes exceptionally well. Her research both thorough and rigorous, is flawlessly woven into the narrative, and she adopts the language of the Victorian age effortlessly …In the field of historical crime writing, she is bound to make her mark.

S.J.Bolton

The Daughters of Gentlemen

Doughty is well chosen as the surname of a woman who faces the innumerable barriers to females in the Victorian era with fortitude.

Jennifer S. Palmer

The Marquess of Queensberry

Linda Stratmann’s masterly new biography cautions us to condemn a little less and understand a little more. It is essential for a good biographer, and Stratmann is a very good biographer, to cultivate a degree of sympathy with her subject. Without it she may not plumb his depths, and Queensberry was a man of abysmal depths.

Roger Hutchinson, The Scotsman

The Marquess of Queensberry

Linda Stratmann presents her defence of Queensberry judiciously and without special pleading. Queensberry is compellingly portrayed …..

The Times Saturday Review

The Marquess of Queensberry

Stratmann does not seek to defend or exonerate Queensberry. She is more subtle than that. She simply invites us to revise our opinion and move beyond the caricature…..

Jonathan Wright, The Herald Scotland

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