Alchemy of Murder

Alchemy of Murder

By Carol McCleary

Here is the Kobo website’s summary:

The world’s most famous reporter, the intrepid Nellie Bly, teams up with science fiction genius Jules Verne,  the notorious wit and outrageous rogue Oscar Wilde, and the greatest microbe-hunter in history, Louis Pasteur. Together  they must solve the crime of the century.  They are all in Paris, the capital of Europe and center of world culture for the 1889 World’s Fair. A spectacular extravaganza dedicated to new industries, scientific discoveries, and global exploration, its gateway is the soaring Eiffel Tower. But an enigmatic killer stalks the streets and a virulent plague is striking down Parisians by the thousands. Convinced that the killings are connected to the pandemic, Nellie is determined to stop them both… no matter what the risks.

This novel presents a fictional account of historical figures working together to solve the mysteries of a killer who is stalking women and a plague afflicting the city of Paris. I wanted to enjoy this book, but I may have had high expectations that could not be met.

Based on the description, I was looking forward to reading what sounded like an exciting mystery, solved by a foursome of historical figures. However, I felt that the story dragged at times, and while the four main characters did work together, it wasn’t as I expected. I would have preferred that the characters spent more time together, particularly with Pasteur, as Bly spent a lot of time with Verne and with Wilde, rather than working in pairs or occasionally a trio.

Because I went long stretches where I would read a few pages and then put the book down for days at a time, I kept forgetting who characters were when I picked it up again. There seemed to be a large number of secondary characters, and I had difficulty tracking who was who as the story progressed.

The premise intrigued me, and I thought that the murder mystery element of the novel was well done, but there seemed to be so much else going on that I found myself skimming paragraphs to find out what happened next in the story. Admittedly, I have not read much historical fiction, but I guess I was expecting the historical aspects to be better woven into the story. At times, I felt as though background historical information was presented dryly. By comparison, I really enjoyed The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl, and I felt that that book integrated the historical setting in such a way that it was interesting to read, rather than cumbersome.

The pacing was slow at times as well, and I found myself wondering why it took so many chapters (70) to tell this story. I suppose I just lost interest at some point, and that made it really difficult to keep reading! I ended up reading three other books after I started this one, because in all honesty I just didn’t want to go on reading this.

However, I have read some great reviews of this book, and I think this is the author’s first novel, and I would certainly read her next one. I think the main reason I struggled with this book is because it started so promisingly: Nellie’s introduction, the background given on her character, and her early encounters with the killer were very well done. Then, however, it seemed to falter. Wilde’s inclusion in this novel confused me, and am still not sure why Nellie was so intent on seeking out Verne to help her. Pasteur’s subplot, however, was well done and I think if the novel had just focused on Bly and Pasteur as the main historical figures, I may have enjoyed it more.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, you might want to give this book a try. I would be curious to know what others think of this book!

Books Reviewed

Total: 711





13 Little Blue Envelopes

The 13th Hour

17 & Gone



Acceptance (The Southern Reach Trilogy #3)


After I Do

After the Woods

After You (Me Before You #2)

Afterwards: A Novel

Alchemy of Murder

Alice Will

Alive (Generations Trilogy #1)

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3)

All Fall Down

All The Feels

All In (The Naturals #3)

All the Missing Girls

All She Was Worth

All the Rage

Allegiant (Divergent #3)

Allison Hewitt is Trapped (Zombie #1)

Also Known As (Also Known As #1)

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone



Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour

Anatomy of a Misfit

And I Darken (The Conqueror’s Saga #1)

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna Dressed In Blood (Anna #1)

Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy #1)

Another Little Piece

Antigoddess (Goddess War #1)

Apple Turnover Murder

The Archived (The Archived #1)

Archivist Wasp




As I Descended

Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn #3)

Asunder (Newsoul #2)

Asylum (Asylum #1)


Audrey, Wait!

Authority (The Southern Reach Trilogy #2)

Avalon (Avalon #1)


Backward Compatible

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces

Battle Royale

Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2)

Beauty Queens

Before I Fall

Behind Her Eyes

Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1)

The Beginning of Everything

Belles (Belles #1)

Bellweather Rhapsody

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1)

Beware That Girl

Big Little Lies

Biggest Flirts (Superlatives #1)

Bird Box

The Bishop’s Man

Black Widow: Forever Red

Blackbird (Blackbird Duology #1)

Blackout (Newsflesh #3)

Blood and Salt (Blood and Salt #1)

Blood Of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3)

Blood Red Road (Dustlands #1)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3)

Blueberry Muffin Murder


Bone Gap


Bookishly Ever After (Ever After #1)

The Bookshop on the Corner

Born of Illusion


Boundless (Unearthly #3)

The Boyfriend App

Brains: A Zombie Memoir

Broken Harbour (Dublin Murder Squad #4)

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend (Broken

Hearts and Revenge #1)

Broken Monsters

Brooklyn Girls (Brooklyn Girls #1)


Burn Baby Burn

Burn For Burn (Burn For Burn #1)

By Your Side


Calling Mr. King

Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet

Can’t Look Away

Caraval (Caraval #1)

Carnival of Souls

Carrot Cake Murder

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #3)

The Chapel Wars

Charlie, Presumed Dead

Charlotte Street

Chasing Before (The Memory Chronicles #2)

Cherry Cheesecake Murder

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

A Christmas Carol

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)

Cinnamon Roll Murder

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments #2)

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1)

City of Glass (Mortal Instruments #3)

Code Name Verity

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown




Confessions of Joan the Tall

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

Countdown City (The Last Policeman #2)

Counting Backwards


Cracked Up To Be

The Crane Wife

Crazy Rich Asians

Cream Puff Murder

The Creeper Man

The Creeping

Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3)

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

Cross My Heart, Hope To Die (The Lying Game #5)

Crossed (Matched #2)

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

The Cure for Dreaming

The Cutaway


Damage Done

Dance of the Red Death (Masque #2)

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy (Dukovskaya #1)

Dangerous Boys

Dangerous Girls

The Dark and Hollow Places

Dark Matter

Dark Metropolis

Dark Places

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)

The Dark World

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

The Darkest Corners

The Darkest Minds (Darkest Minds #1)

A Darkly Beating Heart

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

Daughter of Deep Silence

Daughter of the Pirate King

Daughters Unto Devils

The Dead and the Gone (The Last Survivors #2)

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

Dead Letters

The Dead Path

Dead Reckoning

The Dead-Tossed Waves

Deadline (Newsflesh #2)

Deadly Cool (Deadly Cool #1)

Dear Killer

The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3)

Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Sentence: Escape From Furnace 3

The Devil and Winnie Flynn

Devil’s Advocate (The X-Files: Origins #2)

The Diamond Thief

The Dinner

The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock



The Distant Hours

Divergent (Divergent #1)

The Diviners (The Diviners #1)

The Dogs


Don’t Even Think About It

Don’t Look Back

(Don’t You) Forget About Me

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die #1)

Down With the Shine

The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2)

A Drop of Night

The Dry (Aaron Falk #1)





The Edge of Falling

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

The Elephants In My Backyard

The Elite (The Selection #2)

Eliza and Her Monsters

The Enchanted

The End We Start From

Endless Love

Enduring Armageddon

Engines of the Broken World

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo


Eve’s Apple

Even In Paradise

Every Day

Every You, Every Me

Everything, Everything

Everything You Want Me To Be

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2)

Execution: Escape From Furnace 5

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter


The F-It List

Fahrenheit 451

Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad #3)

The Falconer (The Falconer #1)

The Fall

Falling Into Place

Famous Last Words

Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls


Fates and Furies

The Fault in Our Stars

Feed (Newsflesh #1)

The Female of the Species


Fever (Chemical Garden #2)


Final Girls

Find Me

Fire With Fire (Burn For Burn #2)

The First Lie (A Lying Game Novella)

Flame (Sky Chasers #3)

The Flip Side

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls #3)

Forget Me

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

The Forgotten Book

The Forsaken

Foxtrot: The Best of Foxtrot

Front Lines (Soldier Girl #1)


Fudge Cupcake Murder

Fugitives: Escape From Furnace 4


Game (Jasper Dent #2)

A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book One

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)

The Gathering Storm (The Katerina Trilogy, Volume One)

Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1)

Get Even (Don’t Get Mad #1)

Ghost House (The Ghost House Saga #1)

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3)

The Girl Below

The Girl From the Well

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2)

The Girl on the Train

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girls of No Return

Girls On Fire

The Glass Casket

The Glittering Court

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future


Glow (Sky Chasers #1)

Going Rogue (Also Known As #2)

Going Vintage

Gone (Gone #1)

Gone Girl

Good As Gone


Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)


A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1)


Half Bad

Hallowed (Unearthly #2)

Handling the Undead

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8)

Hate List

The Hating Game

A Head Full of Ghosts

Heart-Shaped Box


The Hearts We Sold

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

The Help

The Heiresses

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

Hereafter (Shadowlands #2)

Hide and Seek (The Lying Game #4)

Hideous Love

High Fidelity


Hotel Ruby

Hourglass (Hourglass #1)

House of Leaves

How To Be A Woman

How To Disappear

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)

Hyperbole and a Half


I Am Princess X

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1)

I’d Know You Anywhere

I Remember You: A Ghost Story

I Was Here

If I Stay (If I Stay #1)

If You Wrong Us

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)

I’ll Meet You There

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Imaginary Girls


In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1)

In Your Room

Infinite (Newsoul #3)

In a Dark, Dark Wood

In Leah’s Wake

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

Incarnate (Newsoul #1)

Insurgent (Divergent #2)

Internet Famous

Into the Dim

Into the Water

An Irish Country Doctor

I See You

Isla and the Happily Ever After


Jackaby (Jackaby #1)

Jane Steele

Jane, Unlimited

Jellicoe Road

The Jewel (Lone City #1)

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Just Like Fate

Just One Day (Just One Day #1)

Just One Year (Just One Day #2)


Keeping the Castle

Key Lime Pie Murder

The Kill Order

Killer Instinct (Killer Instinct #1)

Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2)

Killer Within (Killer Instinct #2)

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)


L. A. Candy

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2)


Landry Park

The Last Dickens

The Last Neanderthal

The Last Policeman (The Last Policeman #1)

Last Seen Leaving

The Leaving

The Legacy


Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1)


Liars, Inc.

Life After Theft

Life As We Knew It (The Last Survivors #1)

The Lifeboat

The Lifeboat Clique

The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2)

A Line in the Dark

Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls #2)

The List

Little Bee

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well

Little Heaven

The Living (The Living #1)

Living Dead Girl

Lockdown: Escape From Furnace 1

Lois Lane: Fallout

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Long Lankin

Long Way Down

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon #3)

Love Is The Higher Law

The Love Interest

Love Letters to the Dead

The Love That Split the World

The Lovely Reckless

Lucky In Love

Lullabies for Little Criminals

The Lying Game

The Lying Game (The Lying Game #1)


Made For You

The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter #1)

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2)

The Magicians (The Magicians #1)

Magpie Murders

A Map for Wrecked Girls

The Martian

Masque of the Red Death (Masque #1)

Matched (Matched #1)

The May Queen Murders

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1)

Me Before You

Meddling Kids

The Merciless (The Merciless #1)

The Merciless II: The Exorcism of Sofia Flores (The Merciless #2)

Messenger of Fear (Messenger of Fear #1)

Me Since You

Mila 2.0 (Mila 2.0 #1)

Mind Games (Mind Games #1)

Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)

Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1)

The Moon and More

A Monster Calls

Mortal Gods (Goddess War #2)

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)

Mostly Void, Partially Stars

The Murder Complex

A Murder in Time

The Murmurings

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend

My Best Friend’s Exorcism

My Last Kiss

My True Love Gave To Me


The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)

The Naturals (The Naturals #1)

Never Have I Ever (The Lying Game #2)

Never Let Me Go

Never Missing, Never Found

The Night Circus

A Night In with Audrey Hepburn (Libby Lomax #1)

The Night We Said Yes

The Nightmare Affair (Arkwell Academy #1)

The Nightmare Charade (Arkwell Academy #3)

The Nightmare Dilemma (Arkwell Academy #2)

Night Film




No Safety In Numbers


None of the Above

Northanger Abbey

Not a Drop to Drink


Objects in Mirror

Obsidian (Lux #1)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Oddities & Entities

Of Monsters and Madness

The One Percenters

The Outliers (The Outliers #1)



Paper Princess (The Royals #1)

Paper Towns

Paper Valentine

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Party

Passenger (Passenger #1)

The Passenger

Peach Cobbler Murder


Perfect Lies (Mind Games #2)

Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles #1)

Perfect Days

The Perfect Stranger

The Perfectionists (The Perfectionists #1)

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Please Look After Mom

Plus One

Poor Little Dead Girls


Pretty Girl-13

Pretty Little Liars: Twisted (Pretty Little Liars #9)

Pretty Little Liars: Ruthless (Pretty Little Liars #10)

Pretty Little Liars: Stunning (Pretty Little Liars #11)

Pretty Little Liars: Burned (Pretty Little Liars #12)

Pretty Little Liars: Crushed (Pretty Little Liars #13)

Pretty Little Liars: Deadly (Pretty Little Liars #14)

Pretty Little Liars: Toxic (Pretty Little Liars #15)

Pretty Little Liars: Vicious (Pretty Little Liars #16)

Pretty Little Liars: Ali’s Pretty Little Lies

Pretty Little Liars: Pretty Little Secrets

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1)

The Professor’s Assassin

The Program (The Program #1)

The Promise of Amazing

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2)


Quarantine #1: The Loners

Quarantine #2: The Saints

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things

Queens of Geek


The Raft

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1)

The Raven King (Raven Cycle #4)

The Ravenous


Ready Player One

Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle #2)

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1)

Rebel Heart (Dustlands #2)

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)


Red Queen (Red Queen #1)

The Redbreast

Red Riding Hood

Renegade (Mila 2.0 #2)

Replica (Replica #1)

The Rest of Us Just Live Here


Revolution 19

The River at Night


Romancing the Throne




The Royal We

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3)

Rules of Deception

Rules of Vengeance

Russian Winter: A Novel



Sabriel (Abhorsen #1)

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)

Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2)

Scrappy Little Nobody

Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear

Sea of Shadows

Second Star

The Secret Diamond Sisters (The Secret Diamond Sisters #1)

The Secret History

The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad #5)

The Secrets of Lily Graves


The Selection (The Selection #1)

Seraphina (Seraphina #1)

Servants of the Storm

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Seven Minutes in Heaven (The Lying Game #6)

Sever (Chemical Garden #3)

The Shade of the Moon (The Last Survivors #4)

Shadowlands (Shadowlands #1)

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)

Shadows on the Moon

Shallow Graves

Shards & Ashes

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1)

Ship Breaker

Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1)




Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2)

Since You Asked

Sinner (Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5)

Since You’ve Been Gone

Sister: A Novel

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters of Versailles

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)


Sky On Fire (Monument 14 #2)

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

Sleep No More

Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling #1)


Social Suicide (Deadly Cool #2)

Solitary: Escape From Furnace 2

Some Girls Are

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1)

Spark (Sky Chasers #2)


Station Eleven

Stealing Heaven


Sterling’s Gold: Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man

Still Missing

Stone in the Sky (Tin Star #2)

Stormdancer (Lotus War #1)

Strands of Bronze and Gold

Strange Sweet Song

A Stranger in the House

Strawberry Shortcake Murder

Such A Rush

Such Wicked Intent (Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #2)

Sugar Cookie Murder

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

The Summer I Became a Nerd

The Sun Is Also a Star

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

Survive the Night

The Swap


The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle #3)

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie


Take the Fall

The Takedown

Talking As Fast As I Can



Tempest (Tempest #1)


Tethers (Tethers #1)

Thank You Notes

There Will Be Lies

There’s Someone Inside Your House

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)

These Shallow Graves

These Vicious Masks

They All Fall Down

Think of a Number

Thirteen Reasons Why

This Dark Endeavour (Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1)

This Is How It Ends

This Is Not A Game

This Is Not A Test

This Is What Happy Looks Like

This Shattered World (Starbound #2)

This World We Live In (The Last Survivors #3)

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2)

Through To You

Tiger Lily

Timepiece (Hourglass #2)

Tin Star (Tin Star #1)

Tiny Pretty Things

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)

Tokyo Heist

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders



The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6)

Trial By Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1)

The Troop

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1)

Truth or Dare

A Twist in Time (Kendra Donovan #2)

Two Truths and a Lie (The Lying Game #3)


The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1)

Unbreakable (The Legion #1)

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1)

Unearthly (Unearthly #1)


The Unexpected Everything

The Unfailing Light (The Katerina Trilogy, Volume Two)

Unforgotten (Unremembered #2)

Ungodly (Goddess War #3)

Unmarked (The Legion #2)

The Unquiet

Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)

Unremembered (Unremembered #1)

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)


Vanished (Vanished #1)

Vanishing Girls

The Vanishing Season

Vassa In the Night

The Vault of Dreamers

Vengeance Road


Vinegar Girl



The Waking Dark


Warcross (Warcross #1)

Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1)

We All Looked Up

We Are Okay

We Were Liars

What the Dead Know

What Light

What’s A Ghoul To Do?

What You Don’t Know


When Dimple Met Rishi

Where She Went (If I Stay #2)

White Space (Dark Passages #1)

The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die #2)

The Widow

Wild Awake

The Wild Robot

Wilde Lake

The Windup Girl


Wink Poppy Midnight

The Winner’s Crime (Winner’s Trilogy #2)

The Winner’s Curse (Winner’s Trilogy #1)



Winterspell (Winterspell #1)

With Malice

Wither (Chemical Garden #1)

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1)

Wolf in White Van

The Woman in the Window

The Women In the Walls


Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Wondrous Strange

World of Trouble (The Last Policeman #3)

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War



Year of Mistaken Discoveries

Yes Please


You Will Know Me

The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)

You’re Never Weird on the Internet


Zoe Letting Go