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2.5 out of 5 stars13
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 22 August 2013
Please note that 'A Fatal Likeness' is the American edition of A Treacherous Likeness (Charles Maddox 3) - so if you have already read Lynn Shepherd's third novel featuring Charles Maddox, then please do not buy this. 'A Treacherous Likeness' is now out in paperback and is much lower in price than this American hardback edition - and the Kindle edition is exceptionally cheap at the time of writing: A Treacherous Likeness (Charles Maddox 3). I very nearly ordered this American edition - I prefer hardbacks and must admit that I was attracted by the beautiful cover - but when I realized that I could buy the English edition for much less, I decided on the Kindle version and saved myself fourteen pounds. I shall write a full review for this book in due course, but in the meantime I just posted this in order to prevent another reader making a potentially expensive mistake.
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I'll be honest with you, peeps. Despite struggling with writing style, ultimately I found this book fascinating.

Lynn Shepherd slowly and painstakingly reassembled a fatal love triangle which consisted of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Godwin (lately Shelley) and Claire Clairmont. She also reintroduced various mysterious events in Shelley's life and her own very Gothic version of what was happening around him and his women.

I freely admit that I was gobsmacked by A Fatal Likeness' series of events. It's very dark, twisted and convoluted, and it's intricately woven in such a mystery that the reader along with the detective Charles Maddox is forced to stumble alone in the dark, coming to the wrong conclusions again and again until we get to see the final version of the truth.

It's disconcerting, at times horrifying, but half way through the book you find that you are too invested in its characters to stop reading.

The writing style wasn't my sort of thing only because it varied between the old-fashioned Victorian language and author's own insights into what this or other event or condition would be called in the future. Such interventions were minute but I don't think they were necessary until Author's Notes and Acknowledgements where Lynn explained what she did and how she did it. I know that they kept ruining my immersion into the story.

Did you notice that I haven't said anything about the characters yet? That' because the characters is what totally made the story shine for me. They are creepy and ambiguous and keep you uncertain if you can trust your own judgement... Perhaps the only solid rock in A Fatal Likeness is Charles Maddox, the detective himself, the rest are fluid. This is why I won't tell you anything about them so as not to spoil your own impressions.

Overall, very good, although you might need to push yourself through the first third of the book to truly enjoy the whole thing.
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on 20 August 2013
Lynn Shepherd's new novel of place, character and time is the second exploration into the life of Charles Maddox, Victorian era investigator. In this outing he is hired by descendents of Percy Bysshe Shelley to retrieve some papers that could prove to be most damaging to the memory of the poet as well as ruinous the reputation of the family. A FATAL LIKENESS (also published as A TREACHEROUS LIKENESS) is a haunting, moody and beautifully executed novel that left me thinking about the characters and their secret lives long after I had closed the cover on the final page. The author's rather interesting and circumspect speculations are based upon her in depth research and left me with many questions about Shelley, his wife Mary and her step-sister Claire. Did Mary really write the celebrated FRANKENSTEIN novel or was it really Shelley? Was Shelley, the twice-wed unfaithful husband, really a closet pedophile who also suffered from paranoia and manic depression? Was the death of the couples' children the result of Munchausen by proxy or simple a case of bad luck? How many women loved Shelley and what was the cost of that love to each of them? Guess I, like Ms. Shepherd will have to follow in her footsteps and do some research of my own.

There are secrets to be unearthed from their hiding places in the many layers of this historical fiction narrative, some that directly involve Maddox's great uncle, whose declining health and memory preclude him from providing Charles with direct assistance as he struggles to ferret out answers to mysteries long buried.

Each secret is slowly revealed via letters, long concealed confessions and case histories, posthumous messages and questionable deaths in a tale that reads like a cross between a biography, a mystery, and a fairy tale straight out of Grimm.

For readers who dislike the third person style of writing, this book may prove to be a bit off-putting, but for those who enjoy well written reading matter that juxtaposes fascinating details of Regency and Victorian era personages and the cultural idiosyncrasies of the era with today's conventional wisdom it should prove to be a thought provoking read. Obviously, THE ROMANTICS refers only to their poetry because closer examination of their personal lives would have earned them the label of "THE CHAOTICS".
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 September 2013
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, is the premise of this latest book in the Maddox series of Victorian crime novels by Lynn Shepherd. In a fatal Likeness the author has again used the rather meandering style of narration which takes us by the hand and leads us this time through the intricacies of the convoluted story of Percy Bysshe Shelley, his deceased first wife Harriet, and his second wife Mary, author of Frankenstein. Young detective, Charles Maddox is once again swept into a mystery of mammoth proportions which threatens the very core of the elite of Victorian literature. However, with his usual tenacity, and with a supporting cast of rather splendid characters, who flit into and out of the narrative with accustomed ease, Charles sets out to discover the truth behind the Shelley mystery.

Beautifully reminiscent of London in the 1850s, the story abounds with an almost Dickensian fervour, from the darkness of mental illness, to the sorrow of infant mortality; the whole gamut of human endurance can be found closeted within the obsessive culture of Victorian morality.

Whilst it is entirely possible to read A Fatal Likeness as a standalone mystery, from a continuity perspective, it would be better to start the stories from the beginning of the Maddox series.
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on 29 September 2013
A Fatal Likeness is a fictional account of the complex and much rumoured relationships between Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and his wife Mary and Claire Clairmont. The historical account of the Victorian era is excellent and Ms. Shepherd attempts to fill in the blanks about the lives of these renown characters by adding a narrative. Sometimes it is a little unclear as to what is fact and what is fiction, having said that it is a good read.
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on 26 February 2014
In a recent piece written by Ms. Shepherd in the Huffington Post she declared that it was ok to judge a book and its author without reading it. Gee, most of us who love books declare ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but Ms. Shepherd takes it the other way saying you can judge without having even cracked the spine.

So be it.

By her own standard, put down in print Ms. Shepherd has said it’s ok to judge a book and author without reading what they write. Ok by her standards then I continue. I have not read one word of this book but I have read Ms. Shepherd’s essay on Huffington and if that is anything to go on her writing is self absorbs, short sighted and not worth the time to read a single word more.
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on 9 April 2014
It was dull and derivative when I first read it, and now that I hear the author doesn't believe we should even read books before passing judgement; specifically on the works of authors who have single handedly kept he publishing industry alive for many years, out of pure spite and jealousy, im not inclined to go back to this assemblage of words (I hesitate to call it a book) or any of her other works, ever again
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on 9 April 2014
I haven't read the book yet, but I enjoyed it immensely. It was just about the right shape too. Thank you.
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on 9 April 2014
Lynn Shepherd posted this mean-minded attack on J K Rowling on the Huffington Post on 21/02/2014:

Her comments have caused outrage across the writing community as you can see in this BBC report:

As Anne Rice (of Interview with a Vampire fame) put it, much better than I ever could:

"Never have I seen anything this malicious ever directed towards an actor, a painter, a ballet dancer, an opera singer, a film director. No, this is the kind of petty, spiteful condescending criticism that is for some reason reserved for writers in our world. And that it was written by some one who is a writer herself makes it doubly nasty and shocking..."

Just consider whether you want to give your money to an author who takes this approach to their fellow writers.
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on 3 March 2014
Or so she tells JK Rowling. Who has inspired a generation (or two) to lift their heads from their i-pods/smart phones and actually read books. I actually haven't read Lynn Shepherd. But she hadn't read JK Rowling. She just suffers from sour grapes. I won't be reading such a small-minded petty author now however. NO WAY!!! Plenty of other choice out there from authors who don't think literature is to stop OTHERS writing out of jealousy! How such small-minded pettiness could translate into good writing of a epic variety I very much doubt. So I won't bother with your books, Lynn. Grow up!!!
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