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The Formula for Murder (Nellie Bly Series #3)
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The Formula for Murder (Nellie Bly Series #3)

4.5 2
by Carol McCleary

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History, mystery, murder, and mad science accompany plucky Victorian newspaper reporter Nellie Bly when she travels to the haunted moors of England to investigate the mysterious death of another journalist.

Refusing to believe the young writer committed suicide, Nellie’s search for the truth takes her from foggy Londontown to the ancient Roman ruins at


History, mystery, murder, and mad science accompany plucky Victorian newspaper reporter Nellie Bly when she travels to the haunted moors of England to investigate the mysterious death of another journalist.

Refusing to believe the young writer committed suicide, Nellie’s search for the truth takes her from foggy Londontown to the ancient Roman ruins at Bath and the eerie landscape of Dartmoor. Stalked by a killer as she unravels the mystery behind a series of deaths, Nellie encounters a handsome young biology teacher named H. G. Wells, whose knowledge leads Nellie into the realm of science gone mad.

Joined by Oscar Wilde, fleeing a sex scandal, and Arthur Conan Doyle, pursuing a legendary beast of the moors, Nellie struggles to stay alive as she hunts down a scientist who is trying to recreate in a test tube the work of God.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1890, McCleary’s exciting third mystery featuring crime reporter Nellie Bly (after 2011’s The Illusion of Murder) finds Nellie in London to bury her protégé, cub reporter Hailey McGuire, an apparent suicide. Nellie can’t help wondering what big story Hailey was working on. Who cleaned out her desk and searched her room? And who is now stalking and threatening Nellie? Relentless prying leads Nellie to a high-end society spa in Bath, where miraculous rejuvenations with peat moss are claimed by the controversial owner, Dr. Anthony Lacroix, who suddenly disappears. Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H.G. Wells lend able assistance in the search for Dr. Lacroix and his hidden laboratory. Nellie and company must contend with periodic murders and eerie occurrences on the moors of Dartmoor, where they’re pursued by wild creatures, both animal and human. For all the action, the book’s main draw remains Nellie—brash, confrontational, decisive, and even romantic. Agent: Harvey Klinger, Harvey Klinger Inc. (July)
Library Journal
In Victorian reporter Nellie Bly's third sleuthing adventure (after The Illusion of Murder), she is out in Bath and Dartmoor, and, yes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is involved, too.
Kirkus Reviews
With the help of Oscar Wilde, a romantic H.G. Wells and others, intrepid reporter Nellie Bly probes the suspicious suicide of a beloved protégée. Nellie visits the London coroner's office with trepidation to identify the body of young Hailey McGuire, who, after a childhood of poverty and abuse, had been working as a cub reporter for Nellie's boss, Joseph Pulitzer, at Nellie's recommendation. There's a suicide note in Hailey's handwriting, and a motive is provided by the corpse's pregnancy, but many days in the river have made certain identification impossible. In addition, the absence of a telltale birthmark, which the coroner says could have been washed away, gives Nellie a glimmer of hope. Even without it, she feels compelled to learn the truth. A menacing man named Archer dogs Nellie's investigation from its first steps. At Hailey's boardinghouse, Nellie learns of a possible gentleman friend and finds a hidden diary. But before she can read it, Archer steals it. A long and lively late-night meal with Oscar Wilde at the Langham Hotel refreshes Nellie and refocuses her determination to get to the bottom of the mystery. A trip to the Aquae Vitae spa at Bath gets her closer to the truth, but also to danger. Adventurer Herbert George Wells rescues Nellie from a tight spot, briefly serves as Watson to her Holmes, and even tries to woo her. There's also a late assist from Arthur Conan Doyle. Period photos and apt quotations from the roman à clef sidekicks add additional spice to Nellie's third delightful romp (The Illusion of Murder, 2011, etc.).
From the Publisher

“Exciting… For all the action, the book's main draw remains Nellie--brash, confrontational, decisive, and even romantic.” —Publishers Weekly on The Formula for Murder

“A top-of-the-line read from an innovative author.” —RT Book Reviews on The Illusion of Murder

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Nellie Bly Series , #3
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.36(h) x 1.11(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Formula for Murder

By Carol McCleary

Forge Books

Copyright © 2012 Carol McCleary
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780765328694

Journal of Nellie Bly, 1890
Before I went to England early in the year, I had heard tales of the haunted moors of Dartmoor, that bleak, windswept land where strange creatures are said to roam on moonless nights, but nothing prepared me for murder and science gone mad as men tempted the heavens by trying to create in a test tube that which only God possesses the right to do.
What I came to witness in these dark days was men of science crazed by their demented dreams of creating something no other mortal has done. It wasn’t the first time murder and madness was born in scientific experiments. And like the question of the chicken and the egg, I wonder—is it the science that drives men mad? Or do the scientists taint their formulas with a bit of their own insanity?
Was Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein insane to have brought the dead back to life with powerful jolts of electricity—or did the monster he created drive him mad when it became murderously uncontrollable?
Victor Frankenstein warns another ambitious man of the dangers of trying to achieve what no one else has ever accomplished, calling his success a serpent that has stung him: “Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of the intoxicating draught? Hear me; let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!”
I have no doubt Victor Frankenstein would say that Mr. Stevenson’s ambitious Dr. Jekyll actually was the murderous beast rather than the alter ego he created with a potion, the violent Mr. Hyde.
Be what it may, the matter that was to draw me into the dark side of science in the tors and crags of the moors began, appropriately enough, in a place of the dead.

Copyright © 2012 by Carol McCleary


Excerpted from The Formula for Murder by Carol McCleary Copyright © 2012 by Carol McCleary. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

CAROL MCCLEARY was born in Seoul, South Korea, and lived in Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines. She now lives on Cape Cod in an antique house that is haunted by ghosts. McCleary is the author of The Alchemy of Murder and The Illusion of Murder.

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The Formula for Murder 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A really great story with a wonderful supporting cast. The story moved along at a good clip and provided many surprises. The only negative is that I was a bit disappointed in the end as it seemed a bit rushed but still provided a satisfying conclusion. Looking forward to the next Nellie Bly story.