Instruments of Darkness: A Novel

( 23 )

Overview

The first novel in the Westerman/Crowther historical crime series that The New York Times Book Review called "CSI: Georgian England" and Tess Gerritsen called "chillingly memorable"

Debut novelist Imogen Robertson won the London Telegraph's First Thousand Words of a Novel competition in 2007 with the opening of Instruments of Darkness. The finished work is a fast-paced historical mystery starring a pair of amateur eighteenth-century sleuths with razor-sharp minds. When Harriet ...

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Instruments of Darkness

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Overview

The first novel in the Westerman/Crowther historical crime series that The New York Times Book Review called "CSI: Georgian England" and Tess Gerritsen called "chillingly memorable"

Debut novelist Imogen Robertson won the London Telegraph's First Thousand Words of a Novel competition in 2007 with the opening of Instruments of Darkness. The finished work is a fast-paced historical mystery starring a pair of amateur eighteenth-century sleuths with razor-sharp minds. When Harriet Westerman, the unconventional mistress of a Sussex manor, finds a dead man on her grounds, she enlists reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther to help her find the murderer. Moving from drawing room to dissecting room, from dark London streets to the gentrified countryside, Instruments of Darkness is a gripping tale of the forbidding Thornleigh Hall and an unlikely forensic duo determined to uncover its deadly secrets.

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What People Are Saying

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.”
Seattle Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143120407
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 12/27/2011
  • Series: Crowther and Westerman Series , #1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 194,241
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Imogen Robertson studied Russian and German at Cambridge University and has worked as a TV, film, and radio director. In 2007, she won The Telegraph's First Thousand Words of a Novel competition with what would become Instruments of Darkness. She currently lives in London and has finished a second novel about Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther entitled Anatomy of Murder.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully written and elegantly structured

    This is a beautifully written and elegantly structured novel, unfolding in three storylines. Two take place in the novel's present day, one following the lives of Alexander Adams (the missing heir of Thornleigh) and his children, and the other the activites of Mrs. Westerman and Mr. Crowther as they struggle to solve a rash of seemingly connected murders. The third storyline unfolds in flashbacks, as it takes place years before in Massachusetts and follows Hugh Thornfield, a Captain in the British Army during the early days of the American Revolution.
    As the connections between the murders, Thornleigh Hall and Alexander become more apparent, the rapid shift of perspective speeds up as well, heightening the tension and turning this from a really good book into a page-turner.
    The novel is also chock-full of fascinating chunks of history. Mr. Crowther's profession as an anatomist allows for many intriguing details about his specimens, the process of dissection, and the early building blocks of forensic science. Harriet Westerman is a delight as the mystery-solving amateur sleuth. She spent the early years of her marriage on a ship with her husband, and still yearns for the freeedom and adventure of life at sea. She is rather bored with her life in the country, managing her husband's estate, and minding her manners, much like a bird in a gilded cage. She is practical, intelligent, brave and flawed - I loved her.
    hroughout the novel the ever-present weight of class consciousness is pressing down on every action, every conversation, from the blatant rejection of the class system in the American flashbacks, to the London riots and the daily activities of every character in the book. It was fascinating to watch how Harriet Westerman and Crowther navigated the dangerous seas of country and class politics and expectations, while attempting to solve a murder.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Georgian Mystery at its best. Don’t you love when you are

    Georgian Mystery at its best.

    Don’t you love when you are introduced to a new author who, just leaves you spell bound? Well this is what happened to me. One of my friends H/F friends is a mystery buff, and she is always telling me about great books. I requested Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson from her. I was very excited to read this, so I finished up the books I had going and picked this one up. I was tearing up by page 50 always a good sign. Any book that can illicit that kind of emotion from me so early on is good.
    This series is set in Georgian England during the American Revolution. A dead body is found on the country estate of Mrs. Harriet Westerman, a woman newly come to the area. Her husband Commander Westerman of his Majesty’s navy is at sea, and until the birth of her children Harriet had traveled with him, but now she is running the estate and raising their children.
    Upon finding the body Mrs. Westerman; who is not only a practical woman but one with worldly experience and intelligence, is leery about involving the local Earl. There are dark secrets that are whispered about, as well as her own dealings with the Thornleigh family, which make her reluctant to involve “The Hall”. She sends for the magistrate, but as it happens she has recently read a paper written by a reclusive neighbor. Mr. Gabriel Crowther, an anatomist, she goes to him for help and reluctantly he agrees to help her.
    Meanwhile London is simmering in the summer heat, and we meet Alexander Adams and his precocious children, a widower and owner of a small but successful music shop; he is murdered in front of his little family the very same day that the man is murdered miles away. Is there a connection between his death and the one in Sussex?
    Well get ready for an incredibly well written, page turner, and be ready to have the second book on hand. I down loaded it immediately upon finishing Instruments of Darkness, and had the third ordered before I had read a few chapters of the second because, it is one of the best series I have read in quite some time. Even knowing who “done it” I am ready to read them again as I wait for book three. 5 stars

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    An Excellent Mystery

    I agree with the other reviewers that this was a real page turner. I am looking forward to the second book in the series, Anatomy of a Murder. The book appeals to the mystery lover for so many reasons, not least the investigators, Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther. If you just enjoy reading a book that is carefully plotted in such a way as to keep you on the edge of your seat, this one is for you. I loved the way the sections hinged on parallel actions in Town, in the country, and in America. You get caught up in the race against time. I certainly did (though I did put it down from time to time because I was enjoying the suspense so much I hated to see it end).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2011

    A Fascinating Period Piece

    Imogen Robertson strikes pay dirt with this fascinating tale of greed, secrets and murder in 1780's Sussex. With Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther as an unlikely pair of detectives and background of the Gordon Riots in London and the American Revolution, she creates an almost unputdownable tale. Further, Ms Robertson has the ability to bring even the most minor characters to life; while the major supporting characters become either people you despise or want to know. She does this magic in variety of small touches and traits that make them come alive.
    We hope to know more of these characters in the next book.
    She has a deft hand with the period and the dialogue is realistic, and hard to decipher dialect almost non existant. Recommended highly

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Good dark fun

    This book opens with a body and a murder. In that order.

    It is full missing heirs, hidden wills, unhinged trophy wives, absent husbands, headstrong women, shamed men, and more bodies to go with more murders. It's a fun and engrossing historical mystery that really has no dull moments. Even scenes away from the "action" had something to entertain: comedy in one story, grief and uncertainty in the other, drama and intrigue in both.

    Ms. Robertson makes good use of the Georgian period in which she places her cast, using the Gordon riots heavily in one storyline and making the real John Hunter a connecting point between the two. For the most part, characters speak in that generic historical fiction kind of way that is unique to no period but "the past." This is good since real Georgian English would be a bit hard to follow, but I was a bit disappointed that there were a few phrases that stood out a modern. They weren't enough to pull me out of the story for long, but they stood out enough that I remember them. Additionally, though I loved Harriet, some of her boldness and forwardness seemed a bit too progressive for the time in which she lived. I don't know that I would have noticed, but put beside Susan, Miss Chase, and Harriet's own sister, Harriet is definitely a bit too fiery.

    Instruments of Darkness is sure to be enjoyed by historical fiction and mystery readers and adored by those who revel in the combination of the two.


    Book source: ARC provided by the publisher through the goodreads first reads program.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    It has been a long time since I've found a book I could not put down. This is the book. Imogen Robertson breathes life into her characters and the plot draws you in and keeps you on the edge. I wonder if she is Georgette Heyer reincarnated. I can't wait for more from Imogen Robertson.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2013

    Very good.

    I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the rest of the series. I love to be transported back in time and leave the here and now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Recommended!

    I have read all of this series and have enjoyed every one . They are well written, rich in historic and forensic detail. The humor was delightful as well and kept it from being too dramatic and dark. If you like historical mystery, you will love these.

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  • Posted July 21, 2013

    The premise of the story was pretty good but I thought it was sl

    The premise of the story was pretty good but I thought it was slow and hard to follow at times. Also I found the main characters somewhat irritating. I probably would have given it a 3 star rating until the main "detective" poisoned a dog in a "scientific experiment" in order to see how long it would take him to die of arsenic poisoning. That did it for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Fetuses

    I love to rape unborn fetuses

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Very good read

    I enjoy reading historical based mysteries. This one kept me interested throughout. I would definetely read other books by this author.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    A Great Read--A Rainy Day Must!

    An unlikey forensic pair set out to solve a series of murders in late 18th century England. Not quite the duo from "Bones;" it makes for an interesting story, especially on a gray, rainy day.

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    Posted February 26, 2011

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    Posted May 20, 2011

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