VICTORIAN MURDER AND MASSAGE

Case of the Toxic Tonic

The Case of The Toxic Tonic (Bow Street Society Mystery, #4)

Early November, 1896. When the Bow Street Society is called upon to assist the Women’s International Maybrick Association, it’s assumed the commission will be a short-lived one. Yet, a visit to the Walmsley Hotel in London’s prestigious west end only serves to deepen the Society’s involvement. In an establishment that offers exquisite surroundings, comfortable suites, and death, the Bow Street Society must work alongside Scotland Yard to expose a cold-blooded murderer. Meanwhile, two inspectors secretly work to solve the mystery of not only Miss Rebecca Trent’s past but the creation of the Society itself…

The Bow Street Society is a fictional group of amateur detectives created by award winning crime fiction author, T.G. Campbell. Each of its civilian members has been enlisted for their unique skill or exceptional knowledge in a particular field derived from their usual occupation. Members are assigned to cases by the Society’s clerk, Miss Trent, based upon these skills and fields of knowledge. This ensures the Society may work on the behalf of clients regardless of their social class or wealth; cases that the police either can’t or won’t investigate. From an artist to a doctor, from a solicitor to a journalist, the Bow Street Society’s aim is to provide justice by all and for all.

Set a month after the events of The Case of The Spectral Shot, The Case of The Toxic Tonic is the fourth instalment in the Bow Street Society Mystery series of novels. Yet, whilst The Case of The Spectral Shot focused on spiritualism, this new addition to the Bow Street Society canon looks at the luxuries enjoyed by upper-class hotel guests—specifically massages. In The Case of The Toxic Tonic, though, this service is provided with the utmost secrecy, discretion, and respectability at the Walmsley Hotel. Despite its plot being fictional, T.G. Campbell’s latest whodunnit is based on historical research.

An article was published in the British Medical Journal in November, 1894, entitled ‘THE SCANDALS OF MASSAGE.’ It had followed a similar article published in the same journal in the summer of 1894, entitled ‘Immoral “massage” establishments’. Both articles insinuated the act of massage was merely a euphemism for prostitution. The latter also depicted “massage shops” as thinly disguised brothels.

These articles, and others in the popular press which followed a similar vein, led to the formation of a council of trained masseuses that consisted of nine nurses and midwives. From October, 1894, a ‘Massage notes’ supplement was published monthly in Nursing Notes. Then, in February 1895, Rosalind Paget and Lucy Robinson formed The Society of Trained Masseuses. Known in modern times as The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, “The Society set examinations and education standards, inspected training schools, and quickly embraced wider methods of treatment, including medical gymnastics, hydrotherapy and electro-therapy.”

The act of massage had been given some credibility thanks to efforts of the Society of Trained Masseuses. Nonetheless, its scandalous reputation would’ve remained within the consciousness of polite society in 1896. Thus, despite making efforts to make its massage parlour respectable­—female masseuses treating female guests, male masseuses treating male guests, and masseuses’ bodies and hands kept covered at all times—the Walmsley Hotel must keep its existence a closely guarded secret. Only guests in need of massage for medicinal purposes are offered an appointment. The last thing Mr Marinus Walmsley wants is for his hotel to be likened to a brothel, after all.

Yet, it’s his determination to maintain the parlour as an exclusive luxury for the sickly rich that makes it the perfect setting for discreet—and cold-blooded—murder….


The Case of The Toxic Tonic is released on 31st August 2019:

Buy via Amazon.co.uk: https://tinyurl.com/y53k575o

Buy via Amazon.com: https://tinyurl.com/y3h28r2a

Join the official launch party on Facebook between 7pm-9pm BST: www.facebook.com/events/501290623775202/   

 Discover more at: www.bowstreetsociety.com

Sources of reference

*Please note that you may need to be a member to click the links and check out the source material.

The Scandals of Massage article in the British Medical Journal (Published 24 November 1894) Br Med J 1894;2:1199

https://www.bmj.com/content/2/1769/1199

 Sex and the Society article by Lisa Wilde in Frontline: The Physiotherapy Magazine for CSP Members (Published 22 May 2006 in issue 10)

https://www.csp.org.uk/frontline/article/sex-and-society (You may need to sign up to access this article)

 “Historical Background” sub-section of the Wellcome Library website’s entry for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy collection (reference: SA/CSP)

http://archives.wellcomelibrary.org/

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