British author Robertson’s fourth mystery (after 2012’s Island of Bones), the best yet in her late-18th-century historical series, takes widow Harriet Westerman and her investigative partner, anatomist Gabriel Crowther, to Germany’s Duchy of Maulberg, where her brother-in-law, Daniel Clode, has been charged with murder. Clode, disoriented and bleeding from an apparent suicide attempt, was found behind a locked door near the smothered corpse of Maria Martesen, Countess of Fraken-Lichtenberg. Westerman and Crowther, having doubts about Clode’s guilt, soon find evidence suggesting someone else was the killer. The case is especially sensitive, since Maulberg is in debt to England, and Clode’s conviction and execution if they can’t clear him could plunge the duchy into financial ruin. Roberston adds in the intrigues of a secret society, the Minervals, whose scheming may have played a part in the death of the countess, among others. The puzzle is intricate enough to satisfy fair-play fans, but it’s the perfect prose that puts this in the first rank of the subgenre. Agent: Annette Green, Annette Green Agency (U.K.). (June)
In the fourth installment of Imogen Robertson’s acclaimed historical suspense series, Mrs. Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther depart England for the Duchy of Maulberg on a desperate mission to save a man accused of murder.
Shrove Tuesday, 1784. As Germany’s elite dance at a masked ball, the beautiful Lady Martesen is murdered. Daniel Clode, Mrs. Westerman’s brother-in-law, is found near the body, his wrists cut, his memories nightmarish. Is Daniel a killer? As he awaits execution, Westerman enlists Crowther, the increasingly reclusive anatomist, to help prove Daniel’s innocence. After another ruthless death, the investigative duo find themselves racing to solve the mystery behind the killings—but no one will talk, and the clock is ticking for Daniel.
Praise for CIRCLE OF SHADOWS
"The best yet in [Robertson's] late-18th-century historical series. . . The puzzle is intricate enough to satisfy fair-play fans, but it's the perfect prose that puts this in the first rank of the subgenre."
—Publishers Weekly, (starred review)
“Dramatic intrigue and painstaking detail combine smoothly in this robust historical thriller. While this is the fourth series entry (after the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award nominee Island of Bones), Robertson does a particularly good job of filling in the backstory for new readers. Sure to be a treat for Anne Perry fans; try also with forensic investigation readers who like an ensemble cast.”
—Library Journal, (starred review)
"The fourth entry in this series mixes shamanism and alchemy with court intrigue and conspiracy, plus a dash of undying love and insanity, as all plot strands come together. With well-drawn characters, sharp dialogue, and distinctive settings, this is a winning historical mystery; Westerman and Crowther continue to shine."
“Delightful . . . Robertson is a virtuoso at capturing the nuances and customs of the period and culture.”
—Mystery Scene Magazine
"The combination of unusual historical nuggets, a taxing mystery and good writing will please many."
Praise for ISLAND OF BONES
“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 . . . First-rate prose and the deepening relationship between the two leads bode well for the longevity of this series.”
—Publishers Weekly,(starred review)
“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.”
“[An] audacious mix of cultural gloss and uncomplicated, straight-ahead storytelling. The multi-layered nuance of Peter Ackroyd and the buttonholing narrative grasp of Stephen King are stirred into the mix.”
—The Independent (UK)
"A new Imogen Robertson book is fast becoming something of an event. . . . This follow-up does not disappoint. As ever, the characters are enticing and the plot absorbing. If you've not read the previous books, do not despair—they each stand alone. But if you have time on your hands, now is your chance to catch up."
—The Daily Mail (UK)
Just when life in 1784 Sussex is settling down for Harriet Westerman, she learns that brother-in-law Daniel Clode (honeymooning in the Duchy of Maulberg with Rachel) has been accused of murdering the host country's own Lady Martesen. For political reasons, he is not executed immediately, giving Harriet and her close colleague, anatomist Gabriel Crowther, time to investigate. They step into a scenario in which odd bits of culture matter; opera, potions, and automata all play parts. Soon they realize that a string of seemingly unrelated deaths are really homicides, and the body count is mounting. The race is on to find the killer before the Duke of Maulberg's upcoming and long-anticipated wedding. VERDICT Dramatic intrigue and painstaking detail combine smoothly in this robust historical thriller. While this is the fourth series entry (after the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award nominee Island of Bones), Robertson does a particularly good job of filling in the backstory for new readers. Sure to be a treat for Anne Perry fans; try also with forensic investigation readers who like an ensemble cast.
An English widow and an anatomist visit 18th-century Germany to rescue a relative accused of murder. Now that they've solved several complicated mysteries on their home turf (Island of Bones, 2012, etc.), Harriet Westerman and her friend Gabriel Crowther must deal with a bizarre murder in the Duchy of Maulberg. Harriet's brother-in-law Daniel Clode is accused of killing Lady Martesen when he is found raving near her body, his wrists slit. Clode is so well-connected back in England that the duke, whose nuptials are near, orders District Officer Krall to cooperate with Harriet and Crowther. A little research reveals that the carnival mask Clode was wearing was treated with a hallucinatory drug. Harriet is shocked when she realizes that the castrato opera singer and spy Manzerotti, whom she blames for her husband's death, is at the court. Manzerotti offers her the chance to kill him in revenge, but instead, they come to an uneasy truce and agree to work together. Manzerotti has asked the bright young spy Pegel to discover more about a clandestine revolutionary organization seeking to overthrow the aristocratic rulers. When highly placed members of the organization begin to die in strange ways, always with slit wrists, the sleuths are plunged into a strange world of automata, necromancy, poison and deceit. Though some readers may find this adventure too long and convoluted, the combination of unusual historical nuggets, a taxing mystery and good writing will please many more.