Book Review: The Poison Bed by E. C. Fremantle

The Poison BedAbout the Book

A king, his lover and his lover’s wife. One is a killer.

In the autumn of 1615 scandal rocks the Jacobean court when a celebrated couple are imprisoned on suspicion of murder. She is young, captivating and from a notorious family. He is one of the richest and most powerful men in the kingdom.

Some believe she is innocent; others think her wicked or insane. He claims no knowledge of the murder. The king suspects them both, though it is his secret at stake.

Who is telling the truth? Who has the most to lose? And who is willing to commit murder?

Format: Hardcover, ebook (416 pp.)    Publisher: Michael Joseph
Published: 14th June 2018                      Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Purchase Links* ǀ  Waterstones | (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Poison Bed on Goodreads

My Review

Told in alternating chapters entitled ‘Him’ and ‘Her’, the book opens with the imprisonment in the Tower of the two main characters.  What follows is a series of flashbacks starting with the beginning of their relationship to their arrest and imprisonment.   It’s a story of friendship, betrayal, secrets, lies and, more than anything, obsessive love.  Based on a true event and featuring the actual historical figures, it is nevertheless a work of fiction and speculation on the part of the author as far as the feelings and motivation of the main characters is concerned.

Initially, both characters come across as pawns in a power game played by those seeking influence at the very top of the court of King James I.  ‘The court’s divisions were laid bare, each faction seeking a way to score points against the other, as if our lives were a game of chess.’   However, at around two thirds of the way through the book, the author throws a completely unexpected and absolutely brilliant curve ball which certainly made this reader rethink everything I’d read so far and question where my sympathies lay.

The Poison Bed is an intense and compelling historical mystery full of authentic period detail but which reads like a modern day psychological thriller.  I thought it was fabulous.  It’s definitely a book where the content lives up to the promise of its gorgeous cover.

I received an advance review copy courtesy of publishers, Michael Joseph, and NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Intense, compelling, suspenseful

Try something similar…Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall (read my review here)

ElizabethFremantleAbout the Author

E. C. Fremantle also writes under the name Elizabeth Fremantle.

Elizabeth has a first in English and an MA in creative writing from Birkbeck, University of London. She has contributed to various publications including The Sunday Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. She also reviews fiction for The Sunday Express.

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