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The Alchemy of Murder (Nellie Bly) Kindle Edition

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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nellie Bly goes in search of Jack the Ripper in Paris, falls in love with Jules Verne, weasels her way into Louis Pasteur’s lab, and finds a fast friend in Oscar Wilde. The Eiffel Tower is newly erected for the 1889 World’s Fair, which is in full swing, and a maniacal slasher, transplanted from London, has more destruction on his depraved mind than cutting up prostitutes: nothing less than the utter desolation of Paris by plague. Well over the top in believability, often awkwardly phrased (“What did that mad Russian anarchist leader have in mind?”), and often broken up with clumsy authorial interjections of footnotes and historical explanations, McCleary’s debut historical suspense novel still has one big thing going for it: it showcases an appealingly flesh-and-blood Nellie Bly, one of the first women to break into a man’s world as an adventurous and plucky investigative journalist. Fans of Arruda’s Jade Cameron and Bowen’s Mollie Murphy mysteries will enjoy Bly, another unflappable female sleuth. Let’s hope McCleary works out the rough spots by the next episode. --Jen Baker


"This is just the kind of book I like--atmospheric, intriguing, rife with drama. What a fabulous debut!"
--New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak

“Doing for the City of Light what Ann Perry has done for Victorian London and what The Alienist did for 19th century New York, Carol McCleary has written a gripping, atmospheric, electrifying masterwork!”
--Barbara Woods, international bestselling writer, and author of The Blessing Stone

“Feisty, funny, opinionated, persistent, Nellie Bly’s as tough as any male she meets.  A tale of peril and pursuit that is sure to keep you turning pages long after you should have been asleep.  Dazzling entertainment, so well constructed you'll re-read it after you’re done!”
--William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Constitution 

Product Details

  • File Size: 2435 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; Reprint edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2010
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,953 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Megan Lilies on March 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I must not have read the same book as the other reviewers on Amazon because this book was a complete mess. The writing style is awkward and switches around between first and third person perspectives, with little notes from "the editors" on many of the pages. I "get" it, and I know what the author is trying to achieve but for me it just didn't feel very polished. Story is pretty predictable and the inclusion of historical figures felt more like a gimmick than anything. Overall, unless you're a mystery buff, pass on this.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Dubuque on July 13, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Wanted to like this more because I love historical mysteries. But both protagonist and antagonist were portrayed in exaggerated ways - SO evil and the ONLY person who knows the truth. Just could not like Nellie Bly as portrayed here. She was so stupid and willful at times and just like in some horror movies you want to say "don't do that", but she does. The historical characters seemed gimmicky except perhaps Jules Verne. The evil antagonist was SO evil he is nearly the anitchrist, having assasinated the Russian czar, was Jack the Ripper, etc. Book was too long considering Nellie's personality and the excessive exaggerated evil of her opponent.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In 1885 Nellie Bly began her reporting career at the Pittsburgh Dispatch after reading an inane article about a woman being at fault for a man assaulting her. Two years later, she travels to New York where she seeks a journalist position at the New York World, but the Gotham newspaper Gods rejected her. She sells the idea of going undercover as a woman committed to the notorious Blackwell's Island Asylum for ten days; Mr. Pulitzer and his managing editor Mr. Cockerill are stunned but accept.

However, once inside as a mad woman, she realizes that Dr. Blum was murdering New York prostitutes. Pulitzer showed no interest, but Nellie was hired for other undercover exposés. She soon learns of a serial killer in Whitechapel London using the name Jack. She went there after Ripper, but failed to catch him. She soon follows the homicide trail to Paris where the World's Fair introduces the Eiffel Tower while a plague kills many residents, but the killer remains loose. She meets Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde and Louis Pasteur while stalking a psychopath.

This is a superb historical mystery told in the first person by the intrepid heroine. Her obsessive hunt for the prostitute killer spans two continents and several years as the audience obtains a feel for time and place. The two literary greats seem a bit forced into the plot although both assist the intrepid reporter and enhance the era; on the other hand Pasteur is a great inclusion especially his tour of the Paris sewers. Filled with drawings to better describe some of the happenings, readers will enjoy the escapades of four famous people trying to solve the serial murder crimes of the late nineteenth century.

Harriet Klausner
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Michelle L. Mashoke on April 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it to all. I don't generally read for pleasure, but with this book I could not put it down. In fact I read it in 2 days! From the very first chapter, I was just hooked. It was exciting, adventurous and interesting...I couldn't tell which parts were history and which were fiction. As an independent woman I could really relate to Nellie.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mystery; Historical

I picked this up at the library because something about the cover made it seem like the kind of book I like. I was right as I enjoyed this largely light-hearted romp through 1889 World Exposition Paris. The main character is Nellie Bly, intrepid newspaperwoman who is tracking down a crazed mass murderer.

The story is presented as if it is her own memoirs, recovered by editors and edited for spelling. Thus most of the book is in first-person. However sometimes the action shifts to follow other characters and I'm not sure how that is supposed to be explained if the central conceit is that Nellie wrote these notes. Is Nellie supposed to have recovered them on her own or are the Editors filling in sections for the reader?

Continuing on, Nellie meets many famous figures, most notably Jules Verne, Louis Pasteur, and Oscar Wilde who all play very important roles in the mystery. Verne and Wilde serve as aides for her investigation while Pasteur figures in with information about microbial killers. It seems as if someone is killing the poor of Paris with mysterious microbes that have kept the police baffled. I really liked seeing the famous figures and I hope, although I haven't researched this, that they would have been in Paris during this time.

Besides microbes, there is also someone killing prostitutes, a la Jack the Ripper and various anarchy plots. The latter is something I ought to have known but had never much considered. Therefore the discussions of all of those were most interesting to me. The role of women is also analyzed with Nellie determined to prove that women are not the weaker sex, no matter what gibes the police send her way.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Irishgal on February 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Nellie Bly is an American journalist who is determined to prove that women can have careers as important and successful as those of men. While undercover at a mental hospital in New York, she encounters a German doctor who murders her roommate, Josephine. Nellie is convinced that this same man has traveled around the world, killing other women, and is currently in Paris where the 1889 World's Exposition is taking place.

In Paris, a terrible disease known as the Black Fever is spreading throughout the city. It is hitting poorer areas harder than the wealthier sections of town, but those in the government want to keep the contagion a secret. If the world knew of the epidemic, the country's economy and tourism due to the Exposition, would be destroyed. They have several of the greatest minds of the age, including famed chemist Louis Pasteur, working on discovering how the disease is being spread.

When Nellie is arrested in Paris after witnessing the murder of a young woman, she is convinced that it is the same killer who killed Josephine in New York several years earlier. However, the police aren't taking her seriously. She decides to enlist the help of novelist Jules Verne to assit her in investigating what she is calling the "slasher" killings. Together, the duo quickly become entangled in the mystery of the Black Fever. Is the disease related to the killings? How exactly is this disease being spread? And why can it not be seen through a microscope?

With a cast of colorful characters like Oscar Wilde and Nellie herself, Carol McCleary's Victorian mystery, "The Alchemy of Murder", is an interesting blend of fact and fiction. And while it was a little rough in patches (some of the scenarios are just a little too 21st century), I am looking forward to reading more from this talented author.
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