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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson

Title: Instruments of Darkness

Author: Imogen Robertson

ISBN:  978-0670022427

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Format: Hardcover

Pages 384

Publication Date:  February 17, 2011

How I Read It: Borrowed from the Library

Rating: 4 Crowns

Synopsis (from Amazon):  In the year 1780, Harriet Westerman, the willful mistress of a country manor in Sussex, finds a dead man on her grounds with a ring bearing the crest of Thornleigh Hall in his pocket. Not one to be bound by convention or to shy away from adventure, she recruits a reclusive local anatomist named Gabriel Crowther to help her find the murderer, and historical suspense's newest investigative duo is born.

For years, Mrs. Westerman has sensed the menace of neighboring Thornleigh Hall, seat of the Earl of Sussex. It is the home of a once- great family that has been reduced to an ailing invalid, his whorish wife, and his alcoholic second son, a man haunted by his years spent as a redcoat in the Revolutionary War. The same day, Alexander Adams is slain by an unknown killer in his London music shop, leaving his children orphaned. His death will lead back to Sussex, and to an explosive secret that has already destroyed one family and threatens many others.

 My Thoughts: This book started off on a high note right away with the discovery of a body on the estate of Mrs. Harriet Westerman.  Returning to Caverly Park in Sussex to provide a home for her sister and children after an adventurous life on the sea with her naval officer husband, Harriet embarks on a new adventure after the discovery of the gruesomely murdered man.  Adding to the intrigue is a ring the dead man carries in his pocket which has ties to neighboring estate Thornleigh Hall and it's heir who has been missing now for 10 years.

I loved that I could clearly picture the characters of Harriet Westerman (she seemed to me like a younger version of Kate Mulgrew) and reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther (which brought to mind a Georgian era Hugh Laurie).  Their chemistry as partners in the solving of the dead man's murder and the whereabouts of the heir to Thornleigh Hall was immediate and their witty and often humorous exchanges were one of the things I enjoyed most about this novel.  Part of the story is set with Harriet and Gabriel in Sussex as they try to solve the murder, part in London with the family of Alexander Adams, and part in flashbacks to Thornleigh Hall's younger son Hugh's time in the Revolutionary War.  While for a good portion of the story it is hard to discern how these three veins of story are connected and how they relate to the mystery at hand, Robertson does a great job of slowly winding them together.  There is an ominous tone throughout the novel, especially concerning the inhabitants of Thornleigh Hall.  Something felt off about them the entire time. 

In Instruments of Darkness the pool of suspects is rather small so you have a vague notion pretty early on in the book of who the culprit may be.  The thing that stands out to me though is that even though you get a sense of the "who" concerning the mystery, the "why" is done so well here that it kept me turning the pages regardless of whether or not I thought I had the suspect figured out.  I really liked this one and may be treating myself to the next in the series for Mothers Day.   This book received rave reviews from a couple of my friends on Paperbackswap and they were right-it did not disappoint!

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1 comment:

Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf said...

I'm intrigued! This one may have to go on my wish list. I like the setting for this mystery and am glad to hear it's getting rave reviews. It sounds like something that might be right up my alley. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!