Book Review: Alchemy – Turning Silver to Gold, By Chris James (Book 2)

Publisher:  Global Literary  |  Publication date: 14th December 2015  |  This edition:  Kindle

Alchemy 2 My Review

Alchemy turning silver to goldChris James continues Jacob Silver’s demise in the next instalment of ‘Alchemy’ with this surreal and imaginative Victorian world of dastardly deeds and murderous intentions.

In Book One, it was believed that the souls of ladies with certain traits could be captured to create an elixir, which would promise immortality to the person consuming it. Well, following lively courtroom exchanges, Jacob Silver was found guilty of being a wicked serial killer and had been sentenced to death.

Young Lizzie, whom Jacob unknowingly cured of consumption with his potions, never believed the verdict and vowed to clear his name, despite her father’s insistence that she should leave the damned thing alone.

This outing sees the battle to prove immortality exists and to discover the identity and whereabouts of the elusive professor, who coached Jacob in the dark science yet absconded without a trace when the arrests for murder of the ladies were being made. A mysterious, crooked villain is starting to make appearances at the site of many a hideous scene in Book Two. Despite the development of revolutionary techniques to gather evidence, this cloaked figure is one step ahead of the humble authorities, who bumble through the investigation with the lives of many a civilian in their hands.

There’s much more back history in this story. We’re transported hundreds of years into the past to offer an explanation how an Alchemist’s recipe for immortality came into existence and provide more plausibility of the science applied in the early 20th century and, more importantly, the reasons for the specific ingredients that were used.

Turning Silver to Gold is a blend of horror, fantasy, crime and history. It’s gritty and imaginative, and there’s some great character interaction – I loved it when Conan Doyle’s fabulous investigative medical services were called for to address the inexplicable. Then we discover that Queen Victoria isn’t fussed about bending the rules when it suits her, and I don’t think her subjects would be amused!

Although a new love interest is on the cards for Lizzie, knowing whether Jacob is innocent or guilty is always in the forefront of her mind – especially when she discovers his corpse is no longer secured in his coffin. History could easily repeat itself and someone may get away with murder…the question is – whose?

There are some great lines and bizarre occurrences, which it’s best not question, just set reality aside for a while and enjoy. I’d also strongly suggest you read Book One first, as you’ll appreciate Jacob Silver’s predicament much, much more.

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to the author for providing an advanced copy of his book in exchange for review.)

Alchemy 2 Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

London ~ 1915

A sensational murder trial begins at the Old Bailey, the accused having apparently been hung for similar shocking murders, in 1895.

How had Jacob Silver escaped the hangman? Where was he, these last 20 years?

Lizzie Weston, his only surviving model, was convinced he was innocent the first time. But after the evidence against him unfolds, she’s sure he’s guilty this time.

Jacob Silver, having unravelled an ancient recipe in the old tome: Alchemy, is convinced he is immortal, and that’s how he survived the hanging. Improving his skills over the last 20 years, he now claims he can raise the dead.

The prosecution allege he murdered five more women for their souls ~ as Alchemy, the manual of murder prescribes.

But is anything as it seems?

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Alchemy 2 Author Links

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A former murder squad detective in England, Chris was often the lead-detective in murder trials. No stranger to murder and the macabre, he was a regular contributor to British True Crime television series. He has maintained an interest in criminology his entire adult life.

In 2006 he moved from England to Mallorca, a beautiful Spanish island in the Mediterranean, where he is a keen yachtsman.

“Alchemy: a story of perfect murder” – is his debut novel, and the first of a trilogy.

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Book Review: Alchemy, by Chris James

Publisher:  Globe Literary, London  |  Publication date:  15th February 2015  |  Edition:  Kindle (Review copy)

Alchemy by Chris James

Alchemy is a chilling psychological tale of mystery, murder and suspense and reveals an extraordinary decade in the life of a talented, sweet young and innocent genius, as he transforms into a monster. The author, well used to murder and the macabre, was a criminal trial lead detective in the British police.

In Victorian London, England, close to the end of the 19th century, a young artist unravels what he believes to be the formula for immortality and raising the dead, prescribed in an ancient tome: Alchemy

Just when he cracks the secret code for the final components of his elixir, his mistress and inspiration, dies. His life is devastated, his mind fragile, destroyed by drugs. He knows he has the power to revive her. But obtaining the last ingredients means resorting to murder, taking innocent lives.

He just has to decide whose.

His only surviving model, our narrator, infatuated with this painter of her portrait, attends the trial of the century, where she finally learns someone got away with murder.

Based on a true story? Why not decide for yourself?

Alchemy, my Review

I was overwhelmed by the ultimate suspense that author Chris James has created in his sensational murder mystery, Alchemy. As it has such an intriguing subject matter, and it was marvellously gruesome in all the right places, this story captured my attention from the get-go.

In a Jack the Ripper-esque tale the essence and mood of the period is paramount, and Alchemy has this in abundance. The story starts with the trial of an Artist accused of murdering several ladies. The prosecution does not paint the artist in the best light (excuse the pun) and makes short work of his lifestyle, including his potion-induced episodes and his overall mental stability, that is if you take into account his ‘guinea pig’ acquaintances in his earlier life. His parental influence meant the artist developed a skill for pharmaceuticals, dispensing various remedies via his late father’s old apothecary shop, above which he lived and continued his passion as a painter.

But the subject matter is almost always the same – his dear, fragile Emily, his one and only true love. He endeavoured capture her image forever. His father had once said, discover immortality through your work. No one could have predicted the fatal outcome of these last words…

When a particular book ‘Alchemy’ fell into his hands, the whole idea of immortality took a whole new meaning – but to succeed, a few unfortunate others must suffer a deadly fate. As a result his work becomes darker, as does his devotion to Emily.

As he strives to succeed, a series of grotesque events affect some of the colourful characters he comes into contact with, none of whom can ever compare to his lost love. The story leads you to wonder if he was working alone, or had lost his mind with the potions he consumes, or was in fact in any way responsible for the macabre acts that had been committed.

Told not only in the voice of his last known muse as she listens to the trial where the artist is accused of murder, but also in his own voice, made for a lively account and kept me on my toes. As events leading up to the trial were recalled, a picture of the artist and his life starts to build. Intermittently, various historical references also offered an interesting flourish to give the story an odd plausibility (I’m won’t give any more away about this – the cover suggests what to expect!).

If you’re an avid fan of vivid, wonderfully atmospheric and graphically murderous tales that are told with suspenseful relish, then I’d wholeheartedly recommend you read this.

Rating: 4/5

(My sincere thanks to the author for providing a Kindle copy of his book for review.)

Alchemy Author Profile

A former murder squad detective in England, Chris was often the lead-detective in murder trials. No stranger to murder and the macabre, he was a regular contributor to British True Crime television series. He has maintained an interest in criminology his entire adult life. In 2006 he moved from England to Mallorca, a beautiful Spanish island in the Mediterranean, where he is a keen yachtsman.

(All clipart images provided courtesy of openclipart.org)