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Instruments of Darkness: A Novel by Imogen…

Instruments of Darkness: A Novel (original 2009; edition 2011)

by Imogen Robertson

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3912927,829 (3.67)35
Title:Instruments of Darkness: A Novel
Authors:Imogen Robertson
Info:Penguin (2011), Kindle Edition, 386 pages
Collections:Your library, eText
Tags:Fiction, Historical Mystery, England, Georgian, 18th Century, 1774-1780, eBook, Kindle, 2012 Read

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Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson (2009)


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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
That's it, I'm throwing in the towel! The book is just so boring and I just hate to force myself to read something. I had enough of that when I studied thank you very much! ( )
1 vote MaraBlaise | Dec 11, 2014 |
It was quite good read. I liked the characters and the plot. ( )
  Sarielle | Aug 10, 2014 |
I really like this investigative pair! Harriet Westetman, the wife of a ship captain who is absent, and the inquisitive, quirky Mr. Crowther. Set in the1700s, the two protagonusts use their wits and varied life experiences to bolster one another in a murder investigation. The story has interesting intrigue and engaging characters. I will definitely read the next installment of this series. ( )
1 vote hemlokgang | Apr 9, 2014 |
The time is 1780 in a small village outside of London. The wife of a local landed gentry (literally landed - he is a naval commodore) finds a body on her land with its throat cut. She turns to the local recluse, who has an interest in cutting up dead bodies, for help. And off they go, delving into local politics and the hidden past to figure out who was murdered and why. A few more murders and a couple of plot twists later, they of course succeed, but the journey to the solution is a worthwhile one.

This was fun for many reasons. First, the style is appropriate to the setting - relaxed and giving a flavor of the writing of the time. Second, the characters are fun, if perhaps a tad too modern. Mrs. Westerman, our heroine, is an independent, no-nonsense, competent woman. Crowther, our hero, is somewhat Darcy-like though much less prideful (or is he the prejudiced one?). Other woman are probably a little more independent than the times might find appropriate, but that's OK with me. Third, the history is good. The American Revolution plays an important role in the story and is well painted (from the British side), and the time in England is well described (there are anti-papist riots going on in London, for instance). Both events are portrayed accurately (I assume - I know it's true for the American events and assume it's true of the British events too), yet realistically. Fourth, it's fresh. One of the wonderful things about Mrs. Westerman and Crowther's partnership is that there is no romantic interest at all. They respect each other and end up trusting each other, but she is happily married (though her husband is away) and he shows no interest in crossing that boundary. For some reason, it just seems so very grown up that, in a novel, two people of opposite sex can actually be friends but not lovers.

Not to worry though. There are other romantic possibilities. The other half of the story takes place in London with a different cast of characters. Their story, is of course, related (I'm not giving away any spoilers - the relationship is obvious early on) and there are the possibilities of love and family there, though also tragedy.

A lovely book. There are a couple of more in the series and I will probably go find them, though with a little hesitation: I don't think this was meant to be the first of a series, and I worry that follow-ups will therefore be disappointing. But I'll take the chance ... ( )
1 vote scvlad | Apr 8, 2014 |
Harriet Westerman, a young gentlewoman living in the tranquil village of Hartswood in rural Sussex, discovers the body of a man on her lands, his throat cut. Rather than calling on the local constable, she addresses herself to Gabriel Crowther, a recluse and known anatomist, for help. As the body count rises, the two form a friendship and discover the reasons behind the murders.

Set in 1780, this is the first in a historical crime fiction series featuring the rather impulsive and unconventional Harriet Westerman and her partner in crime Gabriel Crowther, a gentleman with a secret past and the polar opposite to Harriet in character. Divided into six parts, each covering the span of a day, the plot is centred on the village of Hartswood where Harriet and Crowther live, London and Boston during the American Revolutionary War some five years previously. The prose is fluent and memorable in places, the atmosphere of time and place acute, but the great strength of this novel is its vivid portrayal of the characters, so much so that I felt I knew them as the novel progressed, and cared for them deeply. Even though some might criticise that the plot is too sedate in places (I don’t agree, there are three murders in three days), the author is clearly more concerned about characterisation than driving the action forward just for its own sake. (Saying that, the most memorable scenes detail the carnage after the Battle of Breed’s Hill near Charlestown and the chaos and confusion during the London riots as some of the protagonists have to cross the city to a place of refuge; the writing is incredibly tense in these places.) Here the consequences and repercussions after a violent crime has been committed ripple through the affected members of the family, friends and neighbours, and even the wider community, and Imogen Robertson makes it clear that some acts of violence are committed for personal gain, while others have a personal tragedy of their own at their heart. This is historical crime fiction at its best, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the second volume in the series, Anatomy of Murder. ( )
1 vote passion4reading | Feb 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
It’s a sensitive melodrama, investing almost every character with a dark and sometimes unsavory past, its plot filled with signet rings, wills, adventuresses, concealed letters and dissection, all set against the pleasantly unpleasant background of the Gordon Riots, which prodded a mob of Protestant Londoners into an anti-Catholic frenzy. The climax, as might be expected, involves a chase across the ravaged city to ensure that justice is done to the wronged and that the wrongdoers get their comeuppance.
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Book description
Haiku summary
Gabriel Crowther
And friend Mrs Westerman
Uncover murder.
Idyllic Sussex
Village becomes hotspot for
Multiple murders.
An anatomist
And an English sailor's wife
Track down a killer.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067002242X, Hardcover)

An intricate historical page-turner about a forbidding country estate and the unlikely forensic duo who set out to uncover its deadly secrets.

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.

Instruments of Darkness combines the brooding atmosphere of Anne Perry with the complex, compelling detail of Tess Gerritsen, moving from drawing room to dissecting room, from coffee house to country inn. Mrs. Westerman and Mr. Crowther are both razor-sharp minds and their personalities breathe spirit into this gripping historical mystery.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:33 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Discovering a dead neighbor from a menacing local estate, the unconventional Mrs. Westerman of 1780 Sussex enlists a reclusive local anatomist to uncover the family's secrets, which include ties to the American Revolution and links to the murder of a music shop owner.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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