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Island of Bones [Paperback]

Imogen Robertson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 April 2011

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.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (14 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755372034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755372034
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 385,433 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


'In a word: Compelling' (Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin)

'This series, launched after Robertson won a Telegraph writing competition, continues to excel' (Daily Telegraph)

'Engrossing... Robertson is a skilful storyteller. In Island of Bones, she intertwines local legends, the history of the Jacobite uprisings and the distinctive landscape in an atmospheric and haunting murder mystery about love and betrayal, guilt and revenge. It is both a vivid and intriguing novel' (Canberra Times)

'Chillingly extraordinary thriller' (Tess Gerritsen)

Book Description

'In the overcrowded field of historical fiction, Robertson has the smarts comfortably to outpace most of her rivals' Independent

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating 11 April 2011
Island of Bones is a gripping murder mystery set in the striking landscape of the Lake District, where the dark secrets of the gentry's past are resurrected and entangled with the present. The plot entwines the lives of the upper classes and the superstitious townsfolk into the mystery, combining science and anatomical discoveries with magical paganism as the evidence builds towards the climax with plenty of intrigue along the way. Imogen Robertson's characters are well formed, diverse and interesting, and she carefully balances our growing awareness of their flaws whilst we simultaneously warm to them.

Island of Bones is part of a series of books, but can easily be read on its own, as I did. After enjoying the attention to detail and absorbing storyline of this book I am looking forward to reading her previous two novels!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 14 July 2011
I found Imogen Robertson first novel 'Instrument of Darkness' by accident and as it is based in Sussex, like me, I was intrigued. It was a fantastic book and I really enjoyed her follow up book 'Anatomy of Murder'.

This being her third book I would recommend reading them in order, it won't ruin any of the stories if you don't but you will get a lot more out of them from the build up of each character and thier relationship to each other, especially of those between Harriette and Crowther.

I cannot wait for the next book - thank you Imogen for such wonderful story telling.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By L. J. Roberts TOP 500 REVIEWER
First Sentence: There was a peculiar hush around the Tower the night before an execution.

Scientist and anatomist Gabriel Crother is something of an enigma to neighbors and acquaintances, which has been fine by him. Thirty years ago, he turned his back on his family tragedies, but now must face them. His estranged sister and her son are staying at the estate once owned by their family. Upon encouraging the current owner to move the tomb of the first Earl of Greta from the Island of Bones to the local church, an extra body is discovered within. Crother and his friend, Mrs. Harriet Westerman, are summoned and Crother must confront the past finding that what was thought to be true in the past may not have been and that a brother was falsely executed. Can the truth be learned before others die as well?

Having well-developed, interesting, appealing characters is so critical and Robertson has more than met that requirement. Each of the characters, whether principal or secondary, comes alive under Ms. Robertson's deft hand; so much so that Mrs. Westerman is someone one would like to be, and her 12-year-old son, very believable. The relationship between all of the characters is perfectly correct and appropriate for the period, including the depth, trust and friendship between Crother and Mrs. Westerman. At the same time, each character is flawed making them realistically human. For those who've not read the previous books in the series, ample history is provided to each character, thus avoiding feeling lost.

There is no confusion as to where the story is set, either in period or in location. The period details of social proprietary and customs are always interesting but don't make either the story or the characters seem stiff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History as it might be taught 27 Nov 2012
The author has done her research into the life and times of the English during the latter half of the 19th Century, sometimes a little too thoroughly. The detail tends to slow the movement of the storyline. However, this is small potatoes when looking at the very well written whoduunit set in 1783 - mainly.

I do take issue with her editor who seems to think the Americanism 'out back' was used at this period and that jogging was used as a quick human trot but this is just nit-picking. She creates atmosphere and colour in the Lake District which hasn't changed a great deal even today.

For those following this eccentric pair of sleuths this is a good story which fits nicely into the scheme of things relative to Crowther's family background. Harriet Westerman we know about but Gabriel Crowther has always been an enigma, the more so when we discover he is, in fact, Lotd Keswick by inheritance.

The author gathers around her a whole plethora of characters, some bad, many mainly good, as Crowther begins to uncover the reason why a skeleton was found in a tomb meant for two, not three. It's clever, interesting and a welcome change from the crash, bang, wallop of today's investigations. The children, frankly, seem too good to be true. Pity they aren't all like that. The local baddie wasn't too hard to spot but as to why he was so became clear only at the end which is as it should be. The reader is held captive as the story unfolds, flitting from Vienna to London and back to Cumberland, the characters feeding off each other as a few more bodies tax the mind of Crowther and his ally, Harriet Westerman.

Imogen Robertson has a series to be proud of and I'll now search out the next book for another breath of fresh air in the crime thriller genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping historical crime novel 30 May 2012
By brownie
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a real historical gripper. I found out by accident this is actually the third in the series, but only after reading this compelling crime novel. Although this is the third it does not deter the read. I would urge any reader to start with the first book, which I have just commenced.
I could not put this book down, I felt compelled to read this to its end and read it on a train journey, and it was a rare occasion to look forward to the journey home to complete this.
The book centres around scientist and anatomist Gabriel Crowther who is both puzzling and ambiguous. He has turned his back on the family tragedies- hoping he can ignore the past, but it catches up with him.
His estranged sister and her son are staying at the estate once owned by their family. whilst encouraging the owner to move the tomb of the first Earl of Greta from the Island of Bones to the local church. Another body is found within tomb. As a result Crowther and his friend, Mrs. Harriet Westerman are asked to attend in which crowther cannot resist. He has to then confront the past and that his brother may have been falsely (as the reader may have been thinking at the beginning of the book)
Each of the characters are real and Imogen Robertson spins a good compelling story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Island of bones
I am very much enjoying this book, I have read the two previous Crowther and Westerman books in this collection and
Think you really need to read them in order as there are... Read more
Published 7 months ago by SkyLimit
4.0 out of 5 stars Island of Bones
This was bought by me as a birthday present for a friend. He had read other titles by this author and liked her writing.
Published 9 months ago by Doreen Aumonier
3.0 out of 5 stars Moderately enjoyable historical murder story
A murder story set in the Lake District in the 18th century. What has a long-concealed body to do with Jacobites? Read more
Published 11 months ago by M. F. Cayley
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read
I shan't go into the plot as this is mentioned by most of the other reviewers. It was interesting to be taken back to Gabriels home and find out at last the reason why he gave up... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Fiona Ford
4.0 out of 5 stars Old Gods, New Tricks
As a historical detective story set in the Lake District, Island of Bones did not grab me at first glance. Read more
Published on 4 July 2012 by Rachel Sirotinina
4.0 out of 5 stars A new twist on the crime genre
This was the first book of the Westerman/Crowther series that I have read. At first I was unsure how the setting of 1783 would work and had preconceived ideas that it could be a... Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2012 by Steph
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing Plot that starts slowly......
The story starts in 1751 at the Tower of London on the eve of the execution of Gabriel's brother who has been found guilty of the murder of their father. Read more
Published on 12 Jun 2012 by Mrs. C. Colbert
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Characters In Search Of A TV Series
I came to this book not having read Imogen Robertson's two previous Crowther and Westerman novels, and I think my appreciation of it was slightly impaired by not having done so. Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2012 by Lilysslave
4.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful read...
Against the backdrop of the glorious English Lake District, reclusive anatomist, Gabriel Crowther and his companion, Harriet Westerman meet again in a gothic story of intrigue,... Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2012 by jaffareadstoo
1.0 out of 5 stars Island of bones
I'm afraid that I really had trouble reading this book. I found the central characters Gabriel Crowther and Harriet Westerman to be boring and dull. Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2012 by Katty
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