Alchemy: a story of perfect murder – Chris James

Published 16 February 2015


How far would YOU go to bring back a lost love?

Alchemy is a chilling historical 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.
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 broken through 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?


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.

My thoughts

Set in Victorian England, this is part historical horror, part mystery. It is a tale of Jacob Silver. We follow his trial in 1894, as he is accused of murder and grave robbing and then his life leading up to this point. Silver seems to be a decent chap, falling in love with Emily and painting for a living. He comes under the influence of a mysterious professor and becomes slightly obsessed with finding the key to immortality. This becomes his downfall.

The author gives the reader a real taste of the period and how an artist gets by in these times. You get an impressive sense of Victorian England, in all its gritty dirty glory: Where a guilty verdict in court leads to a trip to the gallows and a visit to the apothecary could prove to be fatal. And I loved the colloquial London dialect. Jacob is unconventional and bohemian, and easy to warm to. He genuinely wants to heal those suffering.

I could imagine this as a ‘Ripper Street’ style TV drama. Highly entertaining!


Many thanks to Chris James for sending me a review copy!


About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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