The Bee’s Knees

Aconite, Queen of Poisons by L.M. Jorden

This mystery featuring main character Dr. Josephine Reva is captivating enough, but knowing it is based on the real life of the author’s grandmother, the first female doctor in Brooklyn, NY, makes the story even more delightful.

It’s the Roaring 20s. The world is changing rapidly, and with those changes come disputes over everything from alcohol use to public health to a woman’s place in society. Enter Dr. Reva, a determined young woman who rose from a Little Italy orphanage under the tutelage of Mother Cabrini to become a medical doctor. She stands up for what she thinks, she is vocal in expressing her belief that the medical profession needs more female doctors, she’s whip-smart, and she’s an all-around spitfire. I liked her from the first page.

When a dead body is found not far from Dr. Reva’s home in Brooklyn, she arrives on the scene thinking she can provide medical help. She’s too late for that, but she realizes the victim is someone she knows. In fact, it’s someone she had just spoken with mere hours before his death.

It’s not long before the detective working the case fixes his sights on Dr. Reva, in part because the victim died from poisoning by a plant—and it just so happens Dr. Reva is a student of homeopathy and the use of plant derivatives to promote health and healing.

Things go downhill from there for Dr. Reva. She’s been framed, and she is forced to start asking questions and investigating on her own behalf before she ends up in prison. And when a second victim is found dead, the race is on to find the real killer before he or she can strike again.

This mystery was such a fun read. Not only did I love Dr. Reva, but I found that the secondary characters added rich layers of texture to the story, too. Reading about their relationships with the doctor lent insights into the doctor’s personality and gave me even more reasons to root for her.

The pacing was perfect. The action builds up steadily with the mounting number of suspects, and it was thrilling to read about the simultaneous exhilaration and danger of visiting speakeasies and poking around in some rather seedy places.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a strong female sleuth, mysteries set in the 1920s, and a terrific and unique whodunit.

23 thoughts on “The Bee’s Knees”

  1. Thank you, especially bc Alexi has a disability, it means a lot that people like his cover art.
    I loved your novels, and can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and how you portray several interesting disabled characters. We all need to do this more. Amy, you’ve inspired me to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Roaring 20s were such a fascinating time in history. I have not read the Phryne Fisher books, but I have seen several episodes of the show on tv. I have not heard of the Stella Hart mysteries. Have you read the Ginger Gold mysteries by Lee Strauss? They are excellent, too. Thanks for the recommendations!


    1. I do, too, Miriam. I love that LM Jorden is sharing stories based on her grandmother’s life. The woman must have been incredible. Thanks for dropping in!


      1. It was fortunate that my grandmother, the real life Dr. Josephine, kept so many papers and medicinal remedies, so I had so much source material. Yes, she was a dynamo! Belladonna, Bitter Conduct is due out in June, and continues her story. Thanks for reading!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The author’s son, an award-winning artist, painted the Flapper Josephine’s visage from a portrait with her ostrich feather fascinator! He then painted the Aconite flowers from an antique botanical print. Wait ’till you see the cover for Belladonna, #2 in the series, coming in June! Belladonna continues Dr. Josephine’s story set in the 30’s as she travels from Brooklyn to her mother’s homeland of Italy on a luxury ocean steamer to thwart a deadly fascist plot taking root in America, based on true events! Like Aconite, Belladonna, too, involves a poisonous plant!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The whole family seems to have a bottomless well of artistic talent and skill! Belladonna sounds fascinating–can’t wait for it to come out.


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