From the Publisher
Praise for INSTRUMENTS OF DARKNESS:
“Robertson’s enjoyment of the period and her characters is infectious.”
—The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
“Every so often I encounter a book that makes me think with envy: ‘How I wish I could have written this story!’ Instruments of Darkness is just that book—poetic, enchanting, and chillingly memorable. Imogen Robertson is an exquisite writer, and this is an extraordinary novel.”
—Tess Gerritsen, bestselling author of Last to Die
“Mayhem runs amok in this period thriller. [Robertson] pulls out all the stops . . . [a] roaring soap opera of a novel.”
—The Washington Times
“Impressive . . . Robertson has a wicked way with suspense. A ripping homage to Dickens, Austen, and Conan Doyle, Instruments of Darkness will keep you up at night, and then, like me, waiting for the sequel.”
The plot is a little loopy, but the dialogue crackles along, and Robertson's enjoyment of the period and her characters is infectious…Robertson writes very well. There is history here, and repartee, and the shadows of truncated plots left delicately unexplored. And who, as the shadows lengthen on our lawns, could ask for more?
The New York Times
Set in West Sussex in 1780, Robertson's auspicious debut introduces the unlikely sleuthing team of anatomist Gabriel Crowther and independent-minded Harriet Westerman, mistress of Caveley Park. When Westerman happens on the stabbed body of a man, eventually identified as Carter Brook, on her land on the track to Thornleigh Hall, Crowther agrees to help her catch the murderer. The secretive Crowther, who's maintained a reclusive existence since moving to the area, finds that Brook's death may be connected to the search for a long-lost heir to the Thornleigh estate. Meanwhile in London, someone knifes to death Alexander Adams, who bears the same first name as the lost heir, in Adams's music shop. While the killer's identity will surprise few, the book works splendidly as a period thriller, with complicated leads and informative details that illuminate 18th-century England for modern readers. Dry humor leavens what otherwise would be a grim story line. (Feb.)
In 1780, Harriet Westerman, a British navy commander's wife, trades a life at sea for a more conventional home in the English countryside. But when Harriet discovers on her property the body of a stranger with his throat sliced open, she learns that life in her small village in Sussex is far from normal. In London, a seemingly unrelated murder occurs when a music shop owner is stabbed in front of his young children. Harriet enlists the help of Gabriel Crowther, an anatomist far more at home with the dead than the living. As Harriet and Gabriel delve deeper, they uncover a deadly secret that threatens to destroy a prominent local family. VERDICT Robertson's series debut offers an intriguing premise, but the story is marred somewhat by overwrought prose and villains who all tend to verge on caricature. For fans of historical thrillers and libraries with a healthy amount of wiggle room in their budgets.—Makiia Lucier, Moscow, ID
A series of murders in an 18th-century English village leads to the investigation of a ruined aristocratic family by an unlikely forensic duo, in an enjoyable debut.
Add another name to the ranks of historical criminology: Gabriel Crowther, student of anatomy and "what record a man's life left on his physical remains"; also a man with a dubious past who joins forces with feisty landowner Mrs. Harriet Westerman when a body is found on her property. London-based Robertson brings good humor and freshness to her story of sudden death and family intrigue, threading larger historical dimensions like the Gordon Riots and the American War of Independence into her rural mystery. Widower Alexander Thornleigh, heir to an earldom, who walked away from his heritage to marry the woman he loved, lives in London with his two children. The murder in West Sussex, near Thornleigh Hall, coincides with an attack on Alexander which leaves the children imperiled orphans. As Crowther and Mrs. Westerman investigate the first death, Alex's younger brother Hugh enters the story, a wounded soldier with a corrosive secret and an unpleasant steward. Guilt, cruelty and dark affections are stirred into the pot as Robertson pulls her London and village stories together in a denouement ringing with leopards' roars and purified by fire.
More a whydunit than a whodunit, but spirited, quality entertainment nonetheless.