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Anatomy of Murder Hardcover – February 16, 2012

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Like Anne Perry’s mysteries, this menacing story set in Georgian London explores the complicated motives driving every character involved to act as they do while pulling together a colorful array of subplots. The death of Fitzraven, former musician and suspected spy, is just the beginning of a string of dark deeds. A large cast of characters makes it difficult to keep names straight, though key players are fully drawn. Some are dear, like little Stephen Westerfield; some vaguely threatening, like Jocasta the fortune-teller; and others are definitely up to no good. Seasoned mystery readers may guess who is behind the killings at the opera house, though few will realize the extent of others’ involvement. This second adventure starring Mrs. Westerman, stubborn and independent society matron, and ascetic anatomist Gabriel Crowther connects some of the dots from Instruments of Darkness (2011) and hints of further adventures to come. The melodramatic final scenes nearly destroy the mood, but by then, momentum will keep those pages turning. Readers interested in early autopsy practices will also want to try The Anatomy of Deception(2008), by Lawrence Goldstone. --Jen Baker


Praise for Anatomy of Murder:

“Memorable prose, strong and unusual leads, a sophisticated plot with several unexpected turns, and an accurate portrayal of the period all make this a winner.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A labyrinthine mystery in the heart of a teeming London, involving fashionable castrati, espionage and bodies in the Thames.   We are immersed in Harriet’s London, and the city is evoked with a Dickensian exuberance… In the overcrowded field of historical fiction, Robertson has the smarts comfortably to outpace most of her rivals.”
—The Independent (UK)

“I guarantee that once you have read this you will be eager to read the first - and keenly awaiting the third.”
—Daily Mail (UK)

 “This series, launched after Robertson won a Telegraph writing competition, continues to excel.”
—Daily Telegraph (UK)

Praise for Island of Bones, coming in hardcover on October 11, 2012,  from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking

“[An] audacious mix of cultural gloss and uncomplicated, straight-ahead storytelling. The multi-layered nuance of Peter Ackroyd and the buttonholing narrative grasp of Stephen King are stirred into the mix.”
—The Independent (UK)

 "A new Imogen Robertson book is fast becoming something of an event. ...this follow-up does not disappoint.  As ever, the characters are enticing and the plot absorbing. If you've not read the previous books, do not despair--they each stand alone. But if you have time on your hands, now is your chance to catch up."
—Daily Mail (UK)

Praise for Instruments of Darkness:

“A sensitive melodrama.... Robertson’s enjoyment of the period and her characters is infectious.”

 —The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)

 “A thoroughly engaging novel, with rich prose and an intricate, suspenseful plot, with melodramatic, Gothic touches in perfect keeping with the historical period. Robertson has already written another Westerman/Crowther mystery… let us hope for many more.”
—Associated Press

 “Every so often I encounter a book that makes me think with envy: ‘How I wish I could have written this story!’ Instruments of Darkness is just that book—poetic, enchanting, and chillingly memorable. Imogen Robertson is an exquisite writer, and this is an extraordinary novel.”
—Tess Gerritsen, author of Keeping the Dead

“Mayhem runs amok in this period thriller. [Robertson] pulls out all the stops… a roaring soap opera of a novel.”
—The Washington Times

 “Impressive… A ripping homage to Dickens, Austen and Conan Doyle, Instruments of Darkness will keep you up at night, and then, like me, waiting for the sequel.”
—Seattle Times

“The book works splendidly as a period thriller, with complicated leads and informative details that illuminate 18th-century England for modern readers.”
—Publishers Weekly

“This debut is getting some play and should well serve lovers of historical suspense.” 
—Library Journal


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books (February 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023172
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,293,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

British author Imogen Robertson grew up in Darlington, studied Russian and German at Cambridge and now lives in London. She directed for film, TV and radio before becoming a full-time author and won the Telegraph's 'First thousand words of a novel' competition in 2007 with the opening of Instruments of Darkness, her first novel. Her other novels also featuring the detective duo of Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther are Anatomy of Murder, Island of Bones and Circle of Shadows. The Paris Winter, a story of betrayal and darkness set during the Belle Époque will be published in the US in November 2014. She has been short-listed for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger twice.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It is May, 1781, when "Anatomy of Murder," by Imogen Robertson, opens. The American colonists and their French allies are at war with Great Britain. Captain James Westerman commands the HMS Splendor, "a neat frigate of forty-four guns." His crew opens fire on a French ship and a vicious battle ensues. More than six months pass. Harriet Westerman, James's wife, is distraught since her husband returned from his last voyage with a severe head injury that left him greatly altered in mind and behavior. For the time being, Harriet and her sister, Rachel, are guests in the London home of the Earl of Sussex, the young heir to a wealthy estate.

An agent of Her Majesty's government prevails upon the resourceful Harriet and her friend and student of anatomy, Gabriel Crowther, to launch an investigation into the murder of a mean-spirited opportunist, Nathaniel Fitzraven. There is a possibility that his death may be tied to a rumor that spies have been passing vital information to the French about British ships, supplies, and troop movements. As a result, England is becoming "a body bleeding vital knowledge of her strategies...."

"Anatomy of Murder" is a an elegantly written and entertaining work of historical fiction in which Robertson shifts back and forth between Harriet and Gabriel and a plucky woman named Jocasta Bligh. Jocasta, an eccentric whose gift as a fortune-teller is well-known, is compassionate and savvy. She, along with her dog, Boyo, and a young waif named Sam, conduct their own inquiries into a case that will eventually converge with Harriet and Gabriel's. Robertson evocatively describes the sights, sounds, and smells of the British capital in the late eighteenth century.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Books and Lesser Evils! on March 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Imogen Robertson started off with a bang with Instruments of Darkness and keeps the series not only going strong but picking up considerable steam with the second book; Anatomy of Murder. Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther find themselves once again pulled in by circumstances into solving a murder. While the duo are asked by the British Goverment to look into the death of a suspected french spy that ties somehow into the mental breakdown of Westerman's husband; A Naval Captain.
In the seedier part of London,Jocasta a Tarot-card reader portents evil for one of her clients and is unable to keep it from happening. Thusly she decides to bring justice to the young girl.
Throw in the growth of Lady Susan and Imogen Robertson has brought all the players into the fray for a thrillride of a mystery. You will find it all in this book, thrills, good solid whodunit, and more then a little tragedy to go around.
This is a young writer who has taken the time to learn her craft and is wielding it so well.
A great read!
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Format: Hardcover
First Line: Captain Westerman was in his cabin reading the letter from his wife for the fourth time when he heard the officer of the morning watch ring Six Bells.

It's 1781, and Harriet Westerman finds herself in London. Her husband, a ship's captain, has been very seriously injured while capturing a French vessel, and Harriet needs to be near him during his recuperation.

She and the reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther have become famous (or infamous) as amateur detectives for solving the mysteries of Thornleigh Hall, which occurred in the first book of the series, Instruments of Darkness. The British government requests their skills as detectives in investigating the death of a man whose body was pulled from the Thames. Harriet's presence at her husband's bedside is doing him no good. Since the doctor tells her to occupy her time in some other fashion-- and because "requests" from the government can seldom be ignored-- the team of Crowther and Westerman find themselves unraveling a plot filled with spies and betrayal.

Once again author Imogen Robertson immerses the reader in the England of the late eighteenth century. The setting, the time period, and the plot are all engrossing, but as with any high calibre mystery, the characters are what lift everything to a more lofty, enjoyable plane. We meet Harriet's husband, Harriet can now be seen as an anxious wife, and the hermit-like Gabriel Crowther is slowly becoming used to Harriet, her family, and just dealing with the general populace. (When you've avoided the public for years, it can take a while to get reacquainted.) Robertson's characters are anything but static and one-dimensional; things happen to them, they grow, and they change.
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Format: Hardcover
I am recovering from a book hangover this morning- was only going to read "a little bit further" in Anatomy of Murder & then couldn't stop 'til I was done. I liked Ms. Robertson's 1st book but REALLY liked this 2nd one - definite authorial growth in this telling. In general, Ms. Robertson's prose is quite lovely - tho sometimes a tad too 'precious' for my taste. It's really ok if all the sun does is rise once in a while. It doesn't need to creep or float or smile or lurk or the like (e.g.) But that said, with such expert, almost lyrical, writing any flights of extravagant prose are easily & willingly forgiven. The author truly knows her way around a sentence! The plot line was fine & believable; same for the characters. I read the 1st book so that helped & most of the time that's all I needed - tho there could have been a fuller explanation of "Eustache," even for a reader familiar with the cast. Unlike another reviewer, I thought the relationship between Harriet W & Gabriel C was richer than in the 1st book. I enjoyed it more. I got a little weepy at the end, & that's rare. I'm fairly inured to death scenes but there was one I found quite moving. I agree with another reviewer, too, that narrating 2 apparently disparate story lines can be hard to follow. Ms. Robertson did so with her 1st novel, too, & in both I admit that I paged ahead to see if/when the lines converged. They do - but it takes some patience to get there & I think could have/should have gotten there a tad sooner. Also, when there is just a sentence or 2 of one plotline followed by a sentence or 2 of another, for me the reading becomes disjointed. Enjoyed the shared peripheral characters & recognized from the hints given in Mrs.Bligh's background that she had a connection with the main characters.Read more ›
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