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Comment: Ex-library book. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting.
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Instruments of Darkness: A Novel Hardcover – February 17, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in West Sussex in 1780, Robertson's auspicious debut introduces the unlikely sleuthing team of anatomist Gabriel Crowther and independent-minded Harriet Westerman, mistress of Caveley Park. When Westerman happens on the stabbed body of a man, eventually identified as Carter Brook, on her land on the track to Thornleigh Hall, Crowther agrees to help her catch the murderer. The secretive Crowther, who's maintained a reclusive existence since moving to the area, finds that Brook's death may be connected to the search for a long-lost heir to the Thornleigh estate. Meanwhile in London, someone knifes to death Alexander Adams, who bears the same first name as the lost heir, in Adams's music shop. While the killer's identity will surprise few, the book works splendidly as a period thriller, with complicated leads and informative details that illuminate 18th-century England for modern readers. Dry humor leavens what otherwise would be a grim story line. (Feb.)
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“Robertson’s enjoyment of the period and her characters is infectious.”

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

“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, bestselling author of Last to Die

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

“Impressive . . . Robertson has a wicked way with suspense. 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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; 1st American Edition edition (February 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067002242X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022427
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on May 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: Gabriel Crowther opened his eyes.

Harriet Westerman, wife of a navy commander, has given up sailing with her husband to raise their family and provide a home for her sister at Caverly Park in West Sussex. When she finds the body of a man whose throat has been slit, she summons help from anatomist Gabriel Crowther. The victim has a ring bearing the crest of neighboring Thornleigh Hall. Was the man Alexander Thornleigh, the missing heir to the Earl of Sussex?

London music shop owner Alexander Adams is murdered. Before dying, he tells his daughter to find a box hidden under the counter. Was Alexander the missing heir and how can his children be removed from the city in spite of a killer and the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots?

Wonderful characters make this book a treat to read. Jane Austin fans will quickly associate Harriet Westerman with Mrs. Croft, the captain's wife from "Pursuasion." She has traveled, seen war, is outspoken and not to be put off. Her younger sister, Rachel Trench, is "Jane Eyre," in her attraction to the war-wounded Hugh Thornleigh, younger brother of the missing Alexander and the Mr. Rochester of our story. Gabriel Crowther is a scientist, and something of a recluse until being pulled into the investigation by Harriet and his own curious mind.

There are a lot of characters, including some real historical figures. It was occasionally is difficult to keep track of who is whom. However, they each played their part and added to the overall Gothic feel of the story.

Ms. Robertson convincingly transported me to Georgian England in sight, sound, dialogue appropriate to the period and historical fact. I had not known of the Gordon Riots until now.
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Format: Hardcover
Imogen Robertson's "Instruments of Darkness" is set in the village of Hartswood, West Sussex, at a time when the colonies were waging war against England. The male protagonist, the brusque Gabriel Crowther, is a recluse whose vocation is the study of anatomy. One day, a local woman, Mrs. Harriet Westerman of Caveley Park, has her maid give Crowther the following note: "I have found a body on my land. His throat has been cut."

The scene shifts to Tichfield Street near Soho Square in London. Residing there are a music store proprietor, Alexander Adams, and his two children, nine-year old Susan and six-year old Jonathan. Alexander is a widower who has broken off contact with his birth family for reasons that will later become clear. He ruefully states "that the past must be looked at squarely or it will chase you down," but he fails to follow this sound advice. Adams has the support of close friends, including a writer, Owen Graves, and Mr. and Mrs. Chase, whose single daughter, Verity, has caught Graves's eye.

How do all these characters fit together? Readers will need to be patient while the author presents us with puzzling scenarios that initially make little sense. Although Crowther and Harriet are not romantically involved (she is happily married to a commodore, James, who is at sea), the two collaborate in trying to learn the identity of the dead man as well as his killer. Harriet suspects that there is a connection between the murder and the well-to-do inhabitants of Thornleigh Hall. She insists, "There is something wrong in that house. Something wounded and rotten. I am sure of it.
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Format: Hardcover
First for the good news. I started reading and could not stop until
I finished, despite it being many hours past my bedtime. The relationship
between the two main characters is compelling, and the scenes with the children
in London are believable and touching.

Now for the less good news. The writing is mostly serviceable, but occasionally
goes off the rails. A reference to Caravaggio in a scene description is jarring
and inappropriate. The main character has seen the "Parthenon in Rome," which is
a neat trick. (She must mean the Pantheon.) Worst of all is an episode in which
a man who is meant to be a sympathetic character offers his dog, whom he obviously
cares for, to be used to test a poison. The dog's death is not graphic, but it
seems completely unnecessary. Weren't there any rats or mice around? This is
important in a book which otherwise stages a battle between good and evil in
a pretty unsubtle way.

I also agree with other reviewers who find the ending unbelievable and melodramatic.
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Format: Hardcover
The name of Imogen Robertson is probably best known to those who scrutinise the credits of the UK children's TV and radio shows she directs, or else to those who follow the contemporary poetry scene to which she contributes as both poet and poetry reviewer. "Instruments of Darkness" is her first novel -- a period murder mystery set in the late eighteenth century, at a time when the American Revolutionary War was at its height and had escalated to a global conflict. The book does not dwell on the events of that conflict, however, which feature more in backdrop, but instead concentrates on domestic events in London at the beginning of June 1780, when the capital was the scene of a short but bloody and violent anti-Catholic uprising, known as the Gordon Riots, events which will be familiar to anyone who has read Charles Dickens' "Barnaby Rudge". Interwoven with these historical events in London is a connected tail of a series of mysterious murders in or around the seat of the Earl of Sussex, Thornleigh Hall, which, it quickly becomes apparent, is itself home to a good few other mysteries.

Imogen Robertson weaves a lively and engaging tale, handling the story and its events well at many levels, evoking the customs, habits and foibles of the period with a deftness that is delightful and easy to read. The plot is nicely involved but never overly complex, while the solution to the mystery itself is neither obscure nor yet totally clear until the very end.
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