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Circle of Shadows Paperback – April 1, 2012

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Paperback, April 1, 2012
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755372077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755372072
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,088,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A cry for help from the Continent sends Harriet Westerman and her colleague, anatomist Gabriel Crowther, to the German Duchy of Maulsberg in 1784. Here Daniel Clode, husband of Harriet’s younger sister, Rachel, is charged with murder after being found disoriented in a locked room near the body of a popular lady of the court at a masked ball. As an agent of the Earl of Sussex, who holds Maulsberg bonds, Clode escapes quick execution, giving Westerman and Crowther time to investigate his puzzling case and leading to their uncovering of other recent murders of members of the court. In the process, Westerman comes face-to-face with her nemesis, the beguiling castrato and spy-for-hire Manzerotti, who was responsible for the murder of her husband but here proves an ally. The fourth entry in this series mixes shamanism and alchemy with court intrigue and conspiracy, plus a dash of undying love and insanity, as all plot strands come together. With well-drawn characters, sharp dialogue, and distinctive settings, this is a winning historical mystery; Westerman and Crowther continue to shine. --Michele Leber --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


'Chillingly extraordinary thriller' Tess Gerritsen This series, launched after Robertson won a Telegraph writing competition, continues to excel' Daily Telegraph

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

4.4 out of 5 stars
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I heartily recommend it!
Victoria Campbell
Well defined characters, great writing, engaging story.
Strong historical mystery.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Cross on April 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Considering the pressures to produce a-book-a-year, Imogen Robertson has become one of my favorite writers of historical mysteries and her most recent, CIRCLE OF SHADOWS, was a great pleasure and possibly her best-written to date. I never find her padding her stories or letting her characters drift even as she meets her deadlines - they always seem to develop and flourish. Unless you've started with "Instruments of Darkness," our introduction to Gabriel Crowther and Mrs. Westerman, it would be hard to appreciate how delicately the relationship between a noble anatomist with deep secrets and the wife of a British Navy captain, both shrewd investigators of murder, could be so satisfying, but it is. Similarly, her plots are never humdrum, while there is a hint of romance, she never drowns us in it, like a wet salad dressing. Her adventures become both more complex and more satisfying. Every book, thus far, has added to the sense of creating a three-dimensional world in late 18th century England (and elsewhere) while retaining a cast of familiar characters we can genuinely watch grow and develop. I many times read "what pleasures lie in store for you!" in various blurbs for historical mysteries, and they are not always right - but in this case, they are.

Circle of Shadows travels, for the first time, outside of England and does it with authority. One of our favorite characters has committed an unthinkable murder - except that he remembers nothing about it. Set it a small German princedom a few years before the French Revolution, Crowther and Mrs. Westerman are once again on the trail of probably the most bizarre murderer yet, although I didn't guess it until the very end. Lovely writing, fun plots, spies, alchemists, good development, and an exotic flourish. Well done! I already wish I knew what adventures lie ahead with the next adventure.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bella Rosa VINE VOICE on April 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the 4th book in the series featuring Mrs. Harriet Westermann and anatomist Gabriel Crowther. Harriet's sister, Rachel, is on her wedding tour with her new husband, Daniel Clode, when the couple runs into trouble on a visit to the dukedom of Maulberg. When Daniel is accused of murder, Rachel summons Harriet to help clear his name. What follows features alchemy, radical Freemasons, court politics, automatons and the return of the castrato Manzerotti.

Characterization is a strength of Robertson's, and she's deftly expanding her ensemble. My favorite is still Island of Bones, but this is a strong entry in a wonderful series. I'm already waiting impatiently for the next.

(A note on the Kindle edition - several sentences were dropped in the formatting of the prologue, but I saw no other problems in the rest of the text.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LBM on July 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
Imogen Robertson's books are always enjoyable, but I think this novel was a distinct improvement on the last book in the series, which featured too much traveling hither and thither and less focus on the (very engaging) characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
I found this a well written and on the whole enjoyable historical crime novel. I had not read any of the previous novels in this series but I didn't find that detracted from this one; necessary details are very well woven into the story and although it may be better to read the series in order it certainly isn't necessary.

The story is set in the fictional German province of Maulberg in 1784. Imogen Robertson paints a convincing period backdrop and I found the sense of time and place one of the strengths of the book. She has elected to make her characters speak in a slightly more formal version of modern English rather than in the idiom of the time, and again I think this works very well, allowing the dialogue and story to flow while still giving an impression of taking place in the eighteenth century. The characters are generally well-drawn and interesting and I was happy to spend time with Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther.

The plot itself involves a wrongly accused friend in need of salvation, political intrigue, mysterious cabals, poisonings and so on and is quite enjoyable. I did feel that it could have done with some trimming: things began to drag a little after 250 pages, I never felt completely gripped by the story and the sheer number of characters with Germanic names made it a little hard to keep track of, which didn't help.

Nevertheless, it was well written and well plotted and made a largely engaging read. If if you like historical fiction or a decent crime novel I can recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
British author Imogen Robertson's novel, "Circle of Shadows", is the fourth in her series of historical mysteries set in the 1780's. I have not read her first three; I picked up this one in a local bookstore because it seemed interesting. And it was. The only problem I had in joining a series book four books into it is figuring out who was who and what was what, but I figured out enough to enjoy the book.

I've never read a novel set in the Holy Roman Empire, which, of course, by the 1780's was neither "Holy", nor "Roman", nor an "Empire". It was complicated puzzle made up of Austria, Hungary, Italian colonies, and a whole passel of independent German kingdoms and duchies, most the size of Rhode Island - or even smaller. These "kingdoms" exist today, in the form of hereditary kings and dukes who are claimants to these no-longer-existing thrones. Robertson has set her story in a fictitious duchy called "Maulberg", where a royal wedding is about to take place and some inconvenient deaths are accompanying the festivities.

Robertson's main characters are Mrs Harriet Westerman, a British widow, and Gabriel Crowther, a reclusive anatomist who is a friend in England. They have evidently worked together in the past to solve crimes. As a first-time reader, I'm honestly not sure how close they are to a romantic relationship. They have journeyed together to Maulberg to help Harriet's sister and her husband, who had been honeymooning on the Continent. The husband has been accused of perpetrating one of the murders and Westerman and Crowder think they help solve the murder and get him out of prison.

Okay, Imogen Robertson has written a very complicated novel. In addition to the grisly murders, there are plots-a-plenty in the duchy and some are tied in to the Masons.
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