I must admit that this is the first Imogen Robertson novel that I have read, and it is quite impressive. From the opening of this and the mention of a suicide you know that this is going to be a somewhat dark read. Set over the winter of 1909-10 in Paris this also takes in the flooding that occurred in the city and surrounding area in 1910.
Against the backdrop of the Belle Époque, Maud Heighton is determined to make her way as an artist, along with other women studying at Lafond's Academie. Indeed the women at the Academie can be seen as a juxtaposition of society, with the haves and have-nots in close proximity, and all getting along.
As winter approaches one of the women at the art class decides to try and help Maud by making sure she has enough food and is warm through the colder months. Via the help of a friend Maud is found a place with a brother and sister, the Morels, as a part-time companion for the sister. Being paid well, eating good food, and residing in clean and warm lodgings it seems as if Maud has landed on her feet. But as time shows, not all things are what they seem.
Taking in grifting, murder, greed, and the hypocrisy of society Maud soon starts to realise what is going on around her, but is it too late? With good friends though, perhaps help may be at hand - hopefully. With obsession, revenge and madness added to the brew this is a relatively fast paced tale that is full of adventure and cunning. Don't be put off by the beginning of this which is a bit slow and brooding, gradually the story picks up pace as it races to the final conclusion.
All in all this is a greatly entertaining read that should keep you hooked until the very end.