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A Fatal Likeness: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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A Fatal Likeness: A Novel + Murder at Mansfield Park: A Novel + The Solitary House: A Novel
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (August 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345532449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345532442
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Shepherd shines again in this superb Victorian thriller, a follow-up to 2012's The Solitary House. A note from Sir Percy Shelley, son of the late Romantic poet, causes elderly Charles Maddox to have a fit of apoplexy. In the circumstances, Maddox's great-nephew and namesake, who's a private detective, responds to Sir Percy instead. The Shelley family hires the younger Maddox to prevent the poet's former lover, Claire Clairmont, from tarnishing his posthumous reputation. When Charles discovers that his great-uncle worked for the family more than 30 years before, on tasks now excised from his relative's meticulous case files, his quest takes on a personal urgency. Juxtaposing omniscient narration with discovered documents, the story moves between 1850 London and the tortured ménage that created Frankenstein in 1818 Italy. The novel works equally as a family story, a blend of horror and mystery, and as a plausible hypothesis about why so many women and children associated with Shelley died mysterious deaths. Agent: Ben Mason, Fox Mason. (Aug.)

From Booklist

Shepherd specializes in historical mysteries, starting with Murder at Mansfield Park (2010). Her latest continues the career of Charles Maddox, first seen in Shepherd’s take on Bleak House, called The Solitary House (2012). Maddox is a mid-nineteenth-century private detective, formerly an officer with London’s Metropolitan Police but fired for insubordination. Now he scratches out a living solving mysteries for clients; he used to be aided by his uncle, a legendary thief-taker, but a stroke has rendered him only intermittingly brilliant. Maddox’s brooding character and Shepherd’s own voice, which uses the present tense in a way that makes it seem as if we are spying on Maddox’s movements, are both enthralling. This mystery centers on papers relating to what happened between Byron, Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin during the summer of 1816 in Switzerland (besides the contest that led to the writing of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). Shelley’s son wants the papers recovered; we soon learn he’s playing a double game. The plot’s revelations sometimes seem as if only a Shelley scholar can understand them, but, overall, this is a solid atmospheric read, sure to be of interest to English majors. --Connie Fletcher

More About the Author

I write what I like to call 'literary murder'. In other words crime novels with a literary twist. I started with Murder at Mansfield Park, which was 'Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie', and I've now moved on to Charles Dickens with Tom-All-Alone's (UK)/The Solitary House (North America). It's inspired by Bleak House as my birthday present on his bicentenary.

I can't remember who it was who said you should write the sort of books you enjoy reading, but they were right - both my books combine my two great literary loves: classic English novels, and good detective fiction. I studied English at university (and have a doctorate in it too).

My other loves include cats (I have two), the English countryside (which I'm lucky enough to live in), Renaissance art (which I'm sadly not lucky enough to own), Palladian architecture, and America's finest police shows (Law & Order, Without a Trace, need I go on). Pet hates include wasps, monkeys, The Simpsons (just can't deal with the yellow faces), and the lazy use of the word "solutions" (I write for businesses as my day job, so that's the corporate copywriter creeping in).

I'm writing my third book now, which will be out in 2013 from Corsair (UK) and Random House (North America).

My Twitter ID is @Lynn_Shepherd, and my website is www.lynn-shepherd.com.

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Customer Reviews

Does not mean you should be writing novels.
Erze
This is a very well written novel of the Shelley family, turning the story into a chilling, unforgettable "historical record" full of mystery.
caffeinebrain
I've never read a word, so I can't comment on whether the book is good, bad or indifferent.
Vancouverite

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte Vale-Allen VINE VOICE on July 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a lifelong fan of Victorian fiction - whether real (Charles Dickens) or simulated (The Quincunx by Charles Palliser - a masterful reinterpretation of the classic form). But this densely plotted book with a contemporary voice jarringly interrupting the narrative flow simply did not work for me. The first interruption arrived with the insertion of the word "groupie" only 19 pages in, shattering the mood the author had so carefully constructed to that point. It was rather insulting to have an author step into the middle of her prose to explain something that for most readers doesn't require it. From there on, it was a struggle to get through all that came after - not least because of the endless and repeated casting of doubt upon the credibility of the three focal characters (Shelley, Mary and Claire). Between the modern interjections, and the deaths of so many young women and infants, the tale deteriorates into a tedious tangle that fails to reward the reader.
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Format: Hardcover
I liked Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. Not because it was a masterpiece, but because it was a well enough written book that enticed millions of people to read more AND delve into the beautiful world of art and religious history. This book does not even compare to that, while it no doubt thinks of itself as a high-brow "literary" piece of murder fiction.

Mostly, it's pretentious and self-congratulatory. Somewhat disappointed to have wasted time on it, and only my own stubborn determination to always finish a book I've begun reading kept me plowing through the pages. But now at least I know what I'm reviewing, unlike the author which was recently pointed out to me, who slags popular authors whilst never having actually read their work. This news, delivered in a Huffington Post article, moved me to write the review of a book I had otherwise consigned to the flea market pile alongside my inherited Barbara Cartlands.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous VINE VOICE on October 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As I was drudging my way through this novel the word tiresome seemed to keep popping up as a favorite descriptive word of the author, that or I found this book so difficult to get through that I may have only seen the word once but it stuck in my mind because that was how I felt about it! I have not read the first installment in this book and I think if I had I possibly would have enjoyed this more -- or at least known what I was getting into and avoided this one! I found the language used to really detract from the story, as if the author was too fixated on making it sound as if it was written ages ago and it seemed to lack authenticity. I enjoy historical fiction and love a good mystery but this novel just couldn't hold my interest long enough to read more than a few pages at a time before I either fell asleep or had to walk away from it. Fans of historical fiction, particularly those of what I think of as the Dickensian period, might enjoy this and if you enjoyed the previous novel it is probably worth checking out. If you haven't read the first novel I would highly recommend picking it up as there are many references to it in the beginning and reading it would probably help to clarify some of the protagonist's experiences.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Atchison on December 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I ordered A Fatal Likeness after reading The Solitary House, which I enjoyed. I gave up reading A Fatal Likeness about half way through as I was very confused and just couldn't keep the characters straight. I was disappointed in this as I thought this could be another author I could follow.
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103 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Vancouverite on February 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I've never read a word, so I can't comment on whether the book is good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults are reading this, mainly because there's so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds. -Thank you Lynn Shepherd for those insightful words! I couldn't have said it better myself
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Constantreader VINE VOICE on September 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am acquainted with the history of of the Byron/Shelley connection and some of the people involved, and was really looking forward to a story I hoped would add some dimension to it. Unfortunately, I found this book somewhat rough going and had a hard time getting into it. It is written in the present tense, which is a matter for personal taste. Unless the author has a very expert touch, there can be a lack of personal history that can make the characters seem thinly drawn and slow down the action. When it's combined with modern day slang that gets thrown in once in a while (i.e Shelley's daughter-in-law is referred to as a "groupie") it is jarring. From the book's opening, it reads like a play: "We began before thick in Autumn fog; we open now in the fury of a west and winter wind" and later "When we next see him it's on an altogether different street, in an altogether different part of London, but one where some of you may have followed him once before". Seems longwinded and rather coy to me. Also somewhat gimmicky. Overly detailed descriptions of scenes had me losing interest and wanting to skim through to the end. Much of the story seemed to just give dialogue to a history already well known about these people. If I hadn't already had an interest in them before, I wouldn't have developed one from reading this book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I didn't know that much about the Shelleys and Lord Byron and had been looking forward to a period mystery of sorts. It may be that I lack the background but I was disappointed by A Fatal Likeness. The plot was based on historical details and was carefully researched. Unfortunately, I found the Shelleys slow and frustrating. The book would pick up whenever Maddox would enter the picture. I expect that I'd enjoy detective stories with Charles Maddox if he was dealing with a less convoluted plot.
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