Mirroring the debauchery of London’s late 19th century Holywell Street and its outlawed printing presses, Poison and Mercy is a delightfully witty send-up with a fast-paced action-adventure story and characters that readers can’t help but root for.
It’s 1885, and the people of London are suffering under clouds of acid while the Thames burns.
Nothing has been seen or heard from within the borders of an increasingly belligerent Germany for several years: the Mediterranean is plagued by the Corsair Queens and their fleet of pirate airships, and a dastardly foreign plot to take control of the British Empire is afoot.
Who can save the day?
Enter Poison and Mercy d’Avalon, a pair of notorious adventuresses with a talent for the amoral, who are hired to eliminate a blackmail threat to a Very Important Person in the royal family. It is task that seems simple enough, but it is one that is soon complicated by murder and the machinations of an implacable and remorseless enemy.
Poison and Mercy must endure one scandalous episode after another as their travels take them from London to Berlin to Cairo, and finally to a hidden pit of corruption buried beneath the blazing heart of the Empire’s capital.
Imprisoned and stripped (on several occasions).
Abandoned and enslaved in the desert.
Forced to endure an evening of music-hall comedy.
How long can two English roses be denied access to the best shops and restaurants before they start to sharpen their thorns and set about taking their revenge?
Not very, apparently.
Poison and Mercy was originally offered as a regular series that appeared with certain disreputable publications between December 1885 and September 1887, and most particularly became a much-anticipated addition to the infamous London Swell and Nonce Quarterly, an equivalent Strand Magazinefor deviants and libertines. Selected passages were also included with Miscreants and Mistresses, a collection of scandalous and undoubtedly libellous tales that most often featured politicians and actresses; and Distaff Deviations, a half-yearly journal that pandered to a mostly female readership and which had a very forthright editorial style that is still shocking even to modern-day readers.
The Blade’s Memory is the fifth installment in the Dragon Blood series.