Monday, 30 May 2011

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Anatomy of Murder and Island of Bones - Imogen Robertson

Release Date: 12/05/11


'Makes you want to read every word...the plot is serpentine and satisfying, with enough false trails and distractions to create a genuine mystery' Telegraph The streets of London seethe with rumour and conspiracy as the King's navy battles the French at sea. And while the banks of the Thames swarm with life, a body is dragged from its murky waters. In another part of town, where the air seems sweeter, the privileged enjoy a brighter world of complacent wealth and intoxicating celebrity. But as society revels in its pleasures, a darker plot is played out. Yet some are willing to look below the surface to the unsavoury depths. Mrs Harriet Westerman believes passionately in justice. Reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther is fascinated by the bones beneath the skin. Invited to seek the true nature of the dead man, they risk censure for an unnatural interest in murder. But when the safety of a nation is at stake, personal reputation must give way to the pursuit of reason and truth.


History is not only written by the victors but, at times, by authors as it should have been rather than it was. Whilst they can’t take huge leaps with the events of the recorded they can play around with the minutae that leads to possible connections and as such that is what Imogen has done extremely well in this, her second novel.

Whilst it won’t appeal to everyone it is a title that has a great deal of imagination, a wonderful sense of 18th Century London and when backed with convincing almost background details brings the city of that century to life within the readers imagination. Add to this backdrop, strong lead characters who balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses well and it’s a title that many readers will have a hard time putting down. Finally add to the mix a wonderful sense of unrecorded history, a decent story arc and a touch of the flamboyant and it’s a title that will please as well as enthral many to Imogen’s writing style.

Release Date: 14/04/11


Cumbria, 1783. A broken heritage; a secret history...The tomb of the first Earl of Greta should have lain undisturbed on its island of bones for three hundred years. When idle curiosity opens the stone lid, however, inside is one body too many. Gabriel Crowther's family bought the Gretas' land long ago, and has suffered its own bloody history. His brother was hanged for murdering their father, the Baron of Keswick, and Crowther has chosen comfortable seclusion and anonymity over estate and title for thirty years. But the call of the mystery brings him home at last. Travelling with forthright Mrs Harriet Westerman, who is escaping her own tragedy, Crowther finds a little town caught between new horrors and old, where ancient ways challenge modern justice. And against the wild and beautiful backdrop of fells and water, Crowther discovers that his past will not stay buried.


Coming from Cumbria I have more than a passing acquaintance with the area’s mentioned by Imogen within this title so to be honest with you, I was a little apprehensive at first as I did end up wondering if she would be able to bring the whole thing together as well as give a flavour of the area for the reader to enjoy. What unfurls in this book is part prehistory of Gabriel as well as continuing his current timeline as he seeks to come to terms with not only his past but also his emotions as things are revealed that were previously unknown.

It’s cleverly done, the interweaving of the various threads wonderfully thought out and when backed with clear, almost photographic descriptions, the reader will have a treat in store. What I would advise however is that you look up some of the area’s within the book on various image sites as the landscape to Derwent Water hasn’t hugely changed in order to give yourself a fuller picture of the land. Finally add to all this Imogen’s trademark prose as well as decent dialogue and characterisation and it’s a title that makes a wonderful addition to this established series.

Please click on the following link for a short film about some of the locations in Anatomy of Murder.

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