Elaine Thomson was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire. She has a PhD in the history of medicine and works as a university lecturer in Edinburgh. She was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award and the Scottish Arts Council First Book Award. Elaine lives in Edinburgh with her two sons.
Elaine’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/es_thomson
E S Thomson is represented at Jenny Brown Associates by Jenny. For all enquiries contact email@example.com
Books by E S Thomson
Constable, October 2023
In the darkness, her face glimmered like polished bone, white, but with a bluish tinge. Her lips were dry and cracked. I saw them move; a black tongue pass over them as if she was trying to speak, but she made no sound.
A plague is coming to London. Dreaded more than the Devil himself, cholera – the ‘blue death’ – spares no one. As fear grows across the city, Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain are called to the bedside of a dead man, murdered, and with his throat torn out, in the back room of a brothel. When an innocent man is taken to Newgate, Jem and Will have until execution day to save him. The search for the identity of the corpse, and the killer, takes them to the gates of Blackwater Hall, home to the secretive, and corrupt Mortmain family. With the approach of autumn, no one is safe, for the fog brings with it an evil and poisonous sickness – the perfect shroud for murder.
When family secrets are prised out into the open, people begin dying. But who, or what, is the cause? Searching for answers, Jem and Will are driven underground, to the passages and tunnels beneath the city’s teeming streets. Here, their adversary proves to be more elusive, and more deadly, than ever.
Constable, April 2021
London, 1851. Restless and bored after a long hot summer, apothecary and poison expert Jem Flockhart decides to redesign her physic garden. But plans are thrown into confusion when a man’s skeleton is unearthed from beneath the deadly nightshade, a smaller, child-like skeleton curled at its feet. The body bears evidence of knife wounds to its ribs and arms, and is accompanied by a collection of macabre objects: a brass bowl, a curious coin-like token, a set of tiny ivory sculls.
The police claim the victim is too long-buried for answers to be found, but for Jem, a corpse in her own garden is something that cannot be ignored. The plans to the garden, laid out some forty years earlier, reveal a list of five names. When Jem and Will start asking questions, the murders begin. Each victim has a past connection with the physic garden; each corpse is found with its jaw broken wide and its mouth stuffed with deadly nightshade.
As they move closer to uncovering the truth Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain encounter a dark world of addiction, madness, power and death that strikes at the very heart of Jem’s own history. This time, the poison is personal. . .
Constable, March 2019
What is the secret which grips Corvus Hall?
Visiting the Great Exhibition to view the wax anatomical models of the famous but reclusive Dr Merlin Strangeway, Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain find a severed arm, perfectly dissected and laid out amongst the exhibits. Assuming it to be a prank by medical students, they return it to Dr Strangeway, who works at Corvus Hall, a private anatomy school run by Dr James Crowe – one of Edinburgh’s most revered surgeons and teachers of anatomy. Jem’s persistence reveals that a body does indeed lie in the school’s mortuary, minus its right arm. But the body has no provenance. More macabre still, its face has been dissected, making identification impossible. Dr Strangeway denies all knowledge, and Dr Crowe seems unwilling to pursue the matter.
At Corvus Hall, Will is employed to illustrate Dr Crowe’s new anatomy handbook. Soon, it becomes evident that all is not as it should be. Dr Crowe’s daughter, Lilith, visits the mortuary in the dead of night and her twin sisters, Sorrow and Silence – one blind and one deaf – exert a malign influence over the students. Organs, freshly dissected, appear in the anatomy museum. Fear grips lecturers and students, even as something unseen binds them in a bloody pact of silence.
In a mystery that ranges from the wynds of Burke and Hare’s Edinburgh to the dissecting tables of London’s notorious anatomy schools, Jem and Will find that the stakes have never been higher.
North America: Pegasus
I knew the smell of death well enough. But here the sweetness of decay was tainted with something else, something new and different. It was a curious, moist smell; a smell that spoke of the ooze and slap of water, of gurgling wet spaces and the sticky, yielding mud of low-tide…
Summoned to the riverside by the desperate, scribbled note of an old friend, Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain find themselves on board the seamen’s floating hospital, an old hulk known only as The Blood, where prejudice, ambition and murder seethe beneath a veneer of medical respectability.
On shore, a young woman, a known prostitute, is found drowned in a derelict boatyard. A man leaps to his death into the Thames, driven mad by poison and fear. The events are linked – but how? Courting danger in the opium dens and brothels of the waterfront, certain that the Bloodlies at the heart of the puzzle, Jem and Will embark on a quest to uncover the truth. In a hunt that takes them from the dissecting tables of a private anatomy school to the squalor of the dock-side mortuary, they find themselves involved in a dark and terrible mystery.
Praise for E S Thomson:
Meticulously researched and masterfully plotted, E S Thomson has written a complex, harrowing and highly enjoyable tale –Daily Express
Here’s a tale of Victorian London to freeze your blood on a cold winter’s night –Evening Telegraph
Constable, March 2016
North America: Pegasus
Ramshackle and crumbling, trapped in the past and resisting the future, St Saviour’s Infirmary awaits demolition. Within its stinking wards and cramped corridors the doctors bicker and fight. Ambition, jealousy and hatred seethe beneath the veneer of professional courtesy. Always an outsider, and with a secret of her own to hide, apothecary Jem Flockhart observes everything, but says nothing.
And then six tiny coffins are uncovered, inside each a handful of dried flowers and a bundle of mouldering rags. When Jem comes across these strange relics hidden inside the infirmary’s old chapel, her quest to understand their meaning prises open a long-forgotten past – with fatal consequences.
In a trail that leads from the bloody world of the operating theatre and the dissecting table to the notorious squalor of Newgate and the gallows, Jem’s adversary proves to be both powerful and ruthless. As St Saviour’s destruction draws near, the dead are unearthed from their graves whilst the living are forced to make impossible choices. And murder is the price to be paid for the secrets to be kept.
Praise for Beloved Poison
You can almost feel the evil miasma rising from the page. –Kirkus Reviews
This outstanding debut historical enthrals with its meticulously researched details. –Library Journal
A wonderfully engrossing and evocative read. –The Book Bag