Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Memorable prose, tight plotting, and complex characters distinguish Shepherd's follow-up to 2012's The English Monster. In June 1812, the Solander, a 'nondescript ship containing wonders,' arrives in London, bearing the fruits of a major botanical expedition to Tahiti. The discoveries prove to have more than scientific implications when members of the crew start turning up dead with smiles on their faces, even after being strangled or having their throats slit. The task of solving the crimes falls to Charles Horton, of the Thames River Police, whose methods have already been successful in a number of cases notably the Ratcliffe Highway murders six months earlier. The involvement of the Royal Society president, naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, who sent the Solander on its mission to the far side of the world, makes the investigation a politically sensitive one. Shepherd's use of the present tense lends an intimate immediacy to the action. Agent: James Gill, United Agents (U.K.)." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for Lloyd Shepherd's The English Monster:
"A feat of perfectly maintained tone and tension." — Booklist (starred review)
"Shepherd presents the fullness of his historical research with infectious delight... The English Monster is an original, imaginative investigation into some of the most disturbing episodes of the nation’s history." -- Times Literary Supplement
"A story as rich in ideas as it is in intrigue... If this sounds ambitious to the point of audacious for a debut novel, then suffice to say that Shepherd pulls it off." --Independent on Sunday (UK)
"Masterful storytelling... If you like your historical fiction with a mighty twist, want to know more about London in the early 19th Century, or simply enjoy pacey but thoughtful fiction, the English Monster is up there with the best."
-- The Londonist
“The English Monster is a riveting police procedural, a thrilling tale of life at sea, and an evocative piece of historical re-creation—all with an intriguing element of the fantastic that makes it irresistible. This is a novel that surprised and astounded me time and again.”
-Felix Palma, New York Times bestselling author of The Map of Time
"An extraordinarily rich mixture of real and imagined characters." < -="" i="" -=""> - The Guardian - < -="" -="">
“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.”
“Shepherd adroitly blurs fact and fiction with a hint of the fantastic, creating his own superior blend of historical crime fiction.”
“I loved it. Very stylish, very ingenious, and very well written.”
“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="" -=""> - The Guardian - < -="" -="">
“Shepherd adroitly blurs fact and fiction with a hint of the fantastic, creating his own superior blend of historical crime fiction.” < -="" i="" -=""> - The Financial Times - < -="" -="">
"I loved it. Very stylish, very ingenious, and very well written." Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat
“Memorable prose, tight plotting, and complex characters."
“Pulls you in… Clever… Shepherd delivers the goods.”
Tahiti 1769. English sailors arrive on the shores of the Polynesian paradise— a place of staggering beauty where magic and ancient myths still hold sway. But they soon devastate the island with disease, war, and death, planting deadly seeds that will be carried back to England forty years later.
London 1812. On a gray June morning, the Solander docks, her hold containing hundreds of exotic plants from Tahiti for the King’s Gardens at Kew. The apparently successful expedition soon takes a horrifying— 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 seems intent on hampering his investigation. When one of the plants begins to show frightening changes, it is up to Charles Horton to determine how it might be stopped.
About the Author
Lloyd Shepherd has worked for the past twelve years as a senior executive in the Internet business, holding senior management positions at Yahoo, The Guardian, Channel 4, and the BBC. Before his online career, Lloyd was a journalist covering the film and TV business for Financial Times and Variety. The English Monster is his first novel.