Island of Bones: A Novel

( 3 )


The third novel in the critically acclaimed Westerman/Crowther historical suspense series reveals the dark secrets of Crowther’s past
England, 1783. For years, reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther has pursued his forensic studies—and the occasional murder investigation—far from his family estate. But an ancient tomb there will reveal a wealth of secrets. When laborers discover an extra body inside the tomb, the lure of the mystery ...

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Island of Bones: A Novel

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The third novel in the critically acclaimed Westerman/Crowther historical suspense series reveals the dark secrets of Crowther’s past
England, 1783. For years, reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther has pursued his forensic studies—and the occasional murder investigation—far from his family estate. But an ancient tomb there will reveal a wealth of secrets. When laborers discover an extra body inside the tomb, the lure of the mystery brings Crowther home at last, accompanied by his partner in crime, the forthright Mrs. Harriet Westerman. What Crowther learns will rewrite his family’s past—and spill new blood in a land torn between old magic and modern justice.

The next installment in a series described as “CSI: Georgian England” (The New York Times Book Review), Island of Bones is a riveting tale that will captivate fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Finch.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Robertson's superior third historical featuring anatomist Gabriel Crowther and widow Harriet Westerman (after 2012's Anatomy of Murder) makes the most of its revelations about Crowther's backstory. The powerful opening, set in 1751 London, shows Crowther (whose real name is Charles Penhaligon) on the eve of his brother Adair's execution for the stabbing murder of their father. Despite his sibling's denials, Crowther cannot credit them, given the circumstances—Adair was found with the fatal weapon in his hand and initially confessed. After the hanging, the action flashes forward to 1783 Cumberland, where an extra corpse has been found in a tomb on the Penhaligon family estate. That discovery comes to the attention of Crowther, who, in the interim, has studied anatomy abroad and tried unsuccessfully to live out his days as a recluse. His investigation into the cadaver's provenanceturns up a wealth of secrets that may shed new light on his family's dark history. First-rate prose and the deepening relationship between the two leads bode well for the longevity of this series. Agent: Jason Bartholomew, Headline Publishing Group. (Oct.)
Library Journal
On February 4, 1751, after his brother's execution, Charles Penhaligon should have become Lord Keswick. Instead he renounced the title, sold the family estate, and continued his studies at the College of Anatomy under the name Gabriel Crowther. But ties to his previous life are not completely severed. When the partially mummified remains of an unknown victim are found on Keswick lands, Crowther and Harriet Westerman, along with her son and his tutor, set off for the Lake Country, searching the present for clues to the past. For new readers, this third series entry (Instruments of Darkness; Anatomy of Murder) can be read alone; it balances revelations from Crowther's early life against the steady development of a well-constructed mystery. Elaborate details produce a strong sense of place, while thoughtful interior dialog and complex connections explore personal relationships. Multiple characters relate events from their perspective, allowing readers to see how various pieces fit together. VERDICT Set aside quality time to fully enjoy this richly layered, engaging historical series; a great suggestion for fans of Anne Perry, Charles Finch, and C.S. Harris. [See Prepub Alert, 7/5/12.]—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH
Kirkus Reviews
A historical fantasy set in England in the last quarter of the 18th century, this novel features the intrepid detective duo: pert widow Mrs. Harriet Westerman and severe Gabriel Crowther. This is Robertson's third Westerman/Crowther novel, and the second after Anatomy of Murder (2012) to appear in the U.S. this year. Obeying the conventions of the many genres increasingly conditioned by film, each section of the book notes the date, each chapter follows multiple stories simultaneously. The action takes place in a single week in the Lake Country in and around the town of Keswick. In the prologue, we read of the suitably melodramatic circumstances in which Gabriel renounced his name and title. Fast-forward 22 years: Crowther receives a letter from his sister, "the Vizegräfin Margret von Bolsenheim, is staying in our former home with her son as guests of the current owner. And they have found a body." So begins a journey for Crowther into his past, into the origin of his family wealth, and the fate of The Luck, "a jeweled cross" that disappeared in 1715. Westerman, her young son, Stephen, and his tutor, Mr. Quince, travel with Crowther to join his bitter sister and her spoiled son, Felix, to enjoy the Austen-esque hospitality of Silverside Hall. After determining the cause of the desiccated corpse's death, Crowther and Westerman turn their attention to the murder of a visiting Viennese gentleman. We learn that Hurst and his daughter, Sophia, have a claim on the feckless Felix, and suspicion falls on him--naturally. The local "cunning-man," a sort of white witch named Casper Grace, features prominently. The hooks of the elaborate plot points are checked in color-coded ink: the bad meet bad ends, the good are rewarded, the arrogant are wounded and see with new eyes. A sure hit for the audience of this CSI subgenre, the rest of us need not visit this Island.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143123316
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 6/4/2013
  • Series: Crowther and Westerman Series , #3
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 278,283
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (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 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A well woven plot featuring complicated and charismatic characters

    Beginning with a vivid account of the public hanging of Crowther’s brother, Robertson again releases an intriguing novel of suspense and mystery, featuring his beloved colorful characters, the spunky widow Mrs. Harriet Westerman and her dear friend, the reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther.
    Set in England in the eighteenth century, an ancient tomb is opened to reveal an extra body. Renowned for his expertise and experience with death, Crowther and his adventurous companion Mrs. Harriet Westerman are summoned back to Crowther’s family estate. As Harriet and Gabriel struggle to discover the identity of the corpse and his murderer from the past, the present provides new challenges, more murders, and a mysterious missing treasure, the Luck of Gutherscale Hall.
    Robertson, describes the picturesque town of Keswick and it’s cast of unique characters, from Casper Grace the “cunning-man,” Mr. Askew, the museum’s curator and somewhat historian of Keswick, the Vizegraifin and her son Felix, and Harriet’s own son Stephen, in rich and vibrant in detail that will please fans of historical fiction, but also those who favor mystery and murder. With references to pagan ideology, politics, greed, and relationships, throughout the story, Robertson touches on qualities of human nature and finally reveals the details of Crowther’s haunted past.
    Composed of multiple storylines and with references to Westerman and Crowther’s past cases running simultaneously together, Robertson, complemented by his entourage of characters is able to weave a complex and fantastic story with immense skill, that readers new to Robertson will not be lost and followers of Westerman and Crowther can embrace their favorite characters again in Island of Bones.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2013

    Loved, loved, loved this book!

    Loved, loved, loved this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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