Anatomy of Murder
London, 1781. Harriet Westerman anxiously awaits news of her husband, a ship's captain who has been gravely injured in the king's naval battles with France. As London's streets seethe with rumor, a body is dragged from the murky waters of the Thames.
Having gained a measure of fame as amateur detectives for unraveling the mysteries of Thornleigh Hall, the indomitable Mrs. Westerman and her reclusive sidekick, anatomist Gabriel Crowther, are once again called on to investigate. In this intricate novel, Harriet and Gabriel will discover that this is no ordinary drowning-the victim is part of a plot to betray England's most precious secrets.
The critics raved about their first adventure, comparing them with the characters of Tess Gerritsen in period clothes. Fans of Instruments of Darkness will find the smart and spirited pair's second outing just as riveting.
THURSDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 1781, HIGHGATE, NORTH LONDON
Mrs. Harriet Westerman was watching her hands. They were shaking slightly. The door to the parlor opened suddenly and she looked up. The owner of the house had entered the room; he started on seeing her then said softly in his light Scots voice, “My apologies, Mrs. Westerman. I had thought you still with your husband. Is everything as it should be?”
Harriet tried to smile at him, but found she could not and looked back at her hands, which trembled still on the stiff purple silk of her skirts like nervous children forced to recite in front of the dining-room draperies. She did not know why she had let herself be persuaded into buying this dress. It was uncomfortable and James had never liked this color.
“My visit this evening was not particularly successful, Dr. Trevelyan,” she said. She heard him take up a chair, positioning it close to her with the sort of sigh that precedes bad news calmly spoken, and she added in a rush, “Please do not take away my hope, sir.” Even in her own ear her voice sounded rather desperate.
The doctor caught his breath and waited a moment before speaking.
“There is always hope, madam,” he said finally. He stood again and moved across to the fireplace, picking up the poker to stir the logs a little. Th e flames chattered and shrugged; there was a pale-colored thread hanging loose from the high collar of his bottle-green coat. “Your husband’s mind is struggling to repair itself. His injury was grave. Because you see his limbs are whole, you expect him to be himself. Do not. He is changed.” Trevelyan turned back toward her, frowning. “Madam, you push him too much. Your love and energy in your care of him are commendable, but you cannot will him into health.”
A wave of frustration knitted her fingers together and made her joints whiten. As the wife of a naval commander in time of war she had feared shot, the vicious killing splinters of wood that flew deadly from the impact of a cannonball, fierce winds and high seas. She had met widows enough, or women whose husbands returned to them with a sleeve pinned up, or swinging on crutches, but she never thought to fear something like this, this invisible maiming. “It was such a stupid accident.”
“A blow to the head that left him unconscious two weeks, madam.” Trevelyan ceased frowning at her and said more gently, “But, my dear Mrs. Westerman, let me give you hope—I will not take it away. I believe parts of his memory are returning. I believe he will, in the coming months, better learn to govern his emotions and behave more fittingly toward his family, but you must allow time to do its work. He has improved since he arrived here, and he will continue to do so.”
She was silent a few moments.
“You said when we first met, sir, there was a man in your hometown who recovered from a similar injury . . .”
Trevelyan turned away from her again and let his eyes rest on the painting of a stag at bay that decorated the wall over his mantelpiece. Th e beast was injured, but its great pronged horns were still lowered, ready to joust with the dogs that had cornered it, its sides torn and bleeding. The morbid little scene was surrounded by a landscape of purple heather that was beautiful and felt nothing. “I did,” he said, as his eyes traveled over those distant hills. “John Clifford lived with his family again and earned his bread. But he was changed. Commander Westerman will never again be the man you married, madam. You must both find the courage to accept that.”
Harriet bit her lip and listened to the fire before speaking in a small and rather helpless voice. “What must I do?”
“Do not come here—” he raised his hand as she started to protest.
“No, madam, I speak in all seriousness. Promise me you will not visit here for a few days, and when you do, bring your son.”
Harriet thought of her little boy, his face pale and afraid, his terrible confusion. “Stephen has become frightened of his father.”
Trevelyan nodded slowly. “Perhaps a little. But he has not seen the captain in some time. Stay away for only a few days, madam. The captain will certainly miss you and make efforts to manage himself better when you return, and greater efforts still in the presence of your son.”
Harriet managed to unclasp her hands. “Perhaps if I no longer tried to force him to recall events . . .”
“A few days, Mrs. Westerman. Occupy yourself in other ways.”
Praise for Anatomy of Murder:
“Memorable prose, strong and unusual leads, a sophisticated plot with several unexpected turns, and an accurate portrayal of the period all make this a winner.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A labyrinthine mystery in the heart of a teeming London, involving fashionable castrati, espionage and bodies in the Thames. We are immersed in Harriet’s London, and the city is evoked with a Dickensian exuberance… In the overcrowded field of historical fiction, Robertson has the smarts comfortably to outpace most of her rivals.”
—The Independent (UK)
“I guarantee that once you have read this you will be eager to read the first - and keenly awaiting the third.”
—Daily Mail (UK)
“This series, launched after Robertson won a Telegraph writing competition, continues to excel.”
—Daily Telegraph (UK)
Praise for Island of Bones, coming in hardcover on October 11, 2012, from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
“[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."
—Daily Mail (UK)
Praise for Instruments of Darkness:
“A sensitive melodrama.... Robertson’s enjoyment of the period and her characters is infectious.”
—The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
“A thoroughly engaging novel, with rich prose and an intricate, suspenseful plot, with melodramatic, Gothic touches in perfect keeping with the historical period. Robertson has already written another Westerman/Crowther mystery… let us hope for many more.”
“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, author of Keeping the Dead
“Mayhem runs amok in this period thriller. [Robertson] pulls out all the stops… a roaring soap opera of a novel.”
—The Washington Times
“Impressive… 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.”
“The book works splendidly as a period thriller, with complicated leads and informative details that illuminate 18th-century England for modern readers.”
“This debut is getting some play and should well serve lovers of historical suspense.”
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