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Instruments of Darkness Paperback – 1 Apr 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755348419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755348411
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up in Darlington in the North East of England, studied Russian and German at Cambridge and spent a year in Russia in a city called Voronezh during the early nineties. Lots of vodka, lots of falling over in the snow.
Before I started writing full-time I used to direct children's television, film and radio. There is less sticky paper and glitter in my life now. Shame. I decided to try and make a career out of writing after I won the Telegraph's 'First thousand words of a novel' competition in 2007 with the opening scene of Instruments of Darkness, my first book. 
I've written six novels; five in the Georgian Westerman and Crowther series and a standalone, Paris Winter. Paris Winter, Island of Bones and Theft of Life have been shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Historical Dagger. I also play the cello and spend a lot of time staring out of my window in Bermondsey, South London.

Product Description

Review

'[An] extremely impressive debut...told by Robertson with great panache' (The Times)

'Satisfyingly complex... Robertson's greatest achievement is the creation of characters who are vivid and believable and so engaging that one hopes Crowther and Westerman find more murders to solve in the future' (Guardian)

'Poetic, enchanting, and chillingly memorable. Imogen Robertson is an exquisite writer, and this is an extraordinary novel' (Tess Gerritsen)

'A charmingly intriguing murder mystery set in 18th century England...Robertson breathes life into her chosen period as authentically as did Georgette Heyer' (Daily Mail)

'Thundering' (Financial Times)

'A large country estate; an ancient and powerful aristocratic family; a dangerous hidden secret; a mysterious anatomist; a feisty amateur female detective and the brutal murder of a stranger. Really, what more could you want from a novel? Well, how about a link to the American revolutionary war and London in riotous meltdown? It's all here in glorious abundance in this rich and lustrous historical crime novel, Instruments of Darkness, the debut work of the ludicrously talented Imogen Robertson' (Material Witness)

'[An] extraordinary, high quality historical thriller' (Eurocrime)

'An atmospheric and twisting novel...an engaging heroine, loony-tune aristos, a cracking plot that fizzes along and a dangerous hidden secret. The follow-up is just as good' (Material Witness )

Book Description

Sold to Pamela Dorman Books/Viking US in a significant six-figure two-book deal


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Max VINE VOICE on 20 May 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very enjoyable first novel by Imogen Robertson. Set in the late 1700's the story centres on some mysterious deaths that involve the estate and heirs to the Earl of Essex.
Investigating the various problems is Gabriel Crowther, a reclusive early pathologist with a hidden past. He is aided and abetted by his feisty neighbour Mrs Harriet Westerman - she finds the first body.
Harriet is married to a captain who is away at sea. She normally is with him but now has to stay on land to look after their children and their estate. She has a background of nursing so is able to assist Crowther without having an episode of `the vapours'. She is also capable and independent.
The story moves around between them, a family devastated by a seemingly inexplicable murder and the son of the Earl of Essex going back in time a few years to his part in the American War of Independence.
To begin with you wish the story would stick to Harriet and Crowther as they form an interesting pair but as the story develops you find yourself just as keen to know what is happening to the others. Robertson is very good at conveying the horror felt by the Hugh Thornleigh facing the `enemy' fire in America. You cannot help but feel how awful it must have been. She is equally good at giving a sense of desperation and fear to the part of the story set in London at the time of the Gordon Riots.
Harriet and Crowther's relationship - an older man and a younger married woman - is also well set out and the strong bond that grows steadily between them is very believable.
I enjoyed this book and will certainly look out for this author in the future
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Angel Jem VINE VOICE on 21 May 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a detective novel set in a time before the police, with a 'natural scientist' and the lady of a big house collaborating to find out who has been killing people in the neighbourhood. It's a new twist on an old favourite, a bit like Silent Witness meet Jane Austen. It isn't a comedy novel; it seriously is a mid 18th century murder mystery.
The eldest son of Thornleigh Hall, Adam, is murdered in London, where he has spent the past 20 years in self-imposed exile. His children and friends are caught up in the riots against the Catholics and their identity is secret to everyone, including themselves. His younger brother, Hugh, hideously scarred in the war in America, is sliding towards Lordship as their father slides away from life, but people start to die in mysterious circumstances, including his father's nurse, Miss Beck. She has secret letters from Adam, and so the hunt begins to find the children of the eldest son before they, too die. And who is behind this devilish plot? That would be telling.
The real heroes of the book are Mr Crowther, himself possessed of a dark secret and Harriet, the naval wife who forces him to help her to investigate the deaths. Given that there are no forensic possibilities, they use a remarkable set of deductions and assumptions to help them. Skin under fingernails, scar patterns, fibre; they use as much as they could reasonably expect to in the 1700's to good effect.
It's a detective story; well plotted and I'd love to say slightly formulaic, except that the setting adds enough interesting details to make you enjoy it.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 31 May 2010
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: Gabriel Crowther opened his eyes.

Harriet Westerman, wife of a navy commander, has given up sailing with her husband to raise their family and provide a home for her sister at Caverly Park in West Sussex. When she finds the body of a man whose throat has been slit, she summons help from anatomist Gabriel Crowther. The victim has a ring bearing the crest of neighboring Thornleigh Hall. Was the man Alexander Thornleigh, the missing heir to the Earl of Sussex?

London music shop owner Alexander Adams is murdered. Before dying, he tells his daughter to find a box hidden under the counter. Was Alexander the missing heir and how can his children be removed from the city in spite of a killer and the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots?

Wonderful characters make this book a treat to read. Jane Austin fans will quickly associate Harriet Westerman with Mrs. Croft, the captain's wife from "Pursuasion." She has traveled, seen war, is outspoken and not to be put off. Her younger sister, Rachel Trench, is "Jane Eyre," in her attraction to the war-wounded Hugh Thornleigh, younger brother of the missing Alexander and the Mr. Rochester of our story. Gabriel Crowther is a scientist, and something of a recluse until being pulled into the investigation by Harriet and his own curious mind.

There are a lot of characters, including some real historical figures. It was occasionally is difficult to keep track of who is whom. However, they each played their part and added to the overall Gothic feel of the story.

Ms. Robertson convincingly transported me to Georgian England in sight, sound, dialogue appropriate to the period and historical fact. I had not known of the Gordon Riots until now.
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