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Imogen Robertson grew up in Darlington, studied Russian and German at Cambridge, and now lives in London. She directed for TV, film and radio before becoming a full-time author, and also writes and reviews poetry. Imogen won the Telegraph’s ‘First thousand words of a novel competition’ in 2007 with the opening of Instruments of Darkness, her first novel.
Author photo © Rebecca Key
Shortlisted for the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger, 2014 the electrifying new historical thriller from the acclaimed author of The Paris Winter.
London, 1785. When the body of a West Indies planter is found pegged out in the grounds of St Paul's, suspicion falls on one of the victim's former slaves, who was found with his watch on the London streets. As Harriet and Crowther begin investigate, however, they find the answer is not that simple. Together, they negotiate the interests of the British government, the secrets of the plantation owners, and a network of alliances stretching across the Atlantic. And they must confront the uncomfortable truth that some people are willing to do great evil when they believe their cause to be just.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Set in Paris in 1909 at the heyday of La Belle Epoque, this historical thriller (and a stand-alone from Robertson, better known for her elegant Crowther and Westerman series) brings the city of light to life in all its decadent excesses, with opium-taking, stolen jewels and murder at the centre of the intrigue as a poor English portrait artist makes her way to the French capital and is drawn into a web of family intrigue. How our heroine turns from an initilly timid character into a strong, empowered woman as she strives to uncover mysteries and crime becomes a tale of adventure and self-development. Leisurely, evocative and rewardingly old-fashioned in the best sense of the term. Sarah Broadhurst's view... A tale full of drama and suspense in the winter of 1909-1910. It concerns a group of young ladies at the school of art in Paris. Central to the story is an impoverished English girl, Maud, who is befriended by a wealthy Russian, Tanya, ostensibly ‘finishing’ her education by acquiring drawing and social skills and improving her French and English. Maud is hoodwinked by a couple of confidence tricksters and Tanya rescues her. It’s a good, well constructed story.
April 2012 Book of the Month. Shortlisted for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award 2011. This is the third in the series of historical crime novels that started with Instruments of Darkness and new readers should start there and have the pleasure of following the characters and their changing lives through the series. Others, like me, hooked on the series have only to wait till April to devour the latest, Circle of Shadows. These are long novels, rich in detail and incident, the lead characters immensely likeable, the historical background adding colour with Imogen Robertson using fact and fiction in her narrative to create a thoroughly satisfying picture of the Eighteenth Century. Like for Like ReadingMistress of the Art of Death, Ariana FranklinThe Talisman Ring, Georgette Heyer
April 2010 Debut of the Month. A rich historical novel, full of mystery, secrets and hidden identities which involve family inheritance, murder and some intriguing characters. It romps along at a good pace, gaining speed and complexity as it goes. Atmospheric and the most enormous fun, it is not the literary masterpiece the publishers would like us to believe, but a thoroughly good read. Comparison: Jed Rubenfeld, Mikkel Birkegaard, Robert Goddard.
There is but one Paris.Vincent Van GoghMaud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris, she quickly realizes, is no place for a light purse. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling decadence of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, she stumbles upon an opportunity when Christian Morel engages her as a live-in companion to his beautiful young sister, Sylvie. Maud is overjoyed by her good fortune. With a clean room, hot meals, and an umbrella to keep her dry, she is able to hold her head high as she strolls the streets of Montmartre. No longer hostage to poverty and hunger, Maud can at last devote herself to her art. But all is not as it seems. Christian and Sylvie, Maud soon discovers, are not quite the darlings they pretend to be. Sylvie has a secret addiction to opium and Christian has an ominous air of intrigue. As this dark and powerful tale progresses, Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant deception. Their secrets become hers, and soon she is caught in a scheme of betrayal and revenge that will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.
Book 1: INSTRUMENTS OF DARKNESSIn the year 1780, Harriet Westerman, the unconventional mistress of a country house in Sussex, finds a dead man on her grounds with a ring bearing the crest of the nearby Thornleigh Hall in his pocket. With the help of a reclusive local anatomist, Gabriel Crowther, Harriet resolves to find the murderer.Book 2: ANATOMY OF MURDERLondon, 1781. Harriet Westerman anxiously awaits news of her husband, a ship's captain who has been gravely injured in the king's naval battles with France. As London's streets seethe with rumour, a body is dragged from the murky waters of the Thames.Book 3: ISLAND OF BONESCumbria, 1783. The tomb of the first Earl of Greta should have lain undisturbed on its island of bones for three hundred years.When idle curiosity opens the stone lid, however, inside is one body too many.
Death at the Carnival: riddle, ritual and murder Shrove Tuesday, 1783. While the nobility dance at a masked ball, beautiful Lady Martesen is murdered. Daniel Clode is found by her body, his wrists slit and his memories nightmarish. What has he done? Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther race to the Duchy of Maulberg to save Daniel from the executioner's axe. There they find a capricious Duke on the point of marriage, a court consumed by luxury and intrigue, and a bitter enemy from the past. After another cruel death, they must discover the truth, no matter how horrific it is. Does the answer lie with the alchemist seeking the elixir of life? With the automata makers in the Duke's fake rural idyll? Or in the poisonous lies oozing around the court as the elite strive for power?
'Makes you want to read every word...the plot is serpentine and satisfying, with enough false trails and distractions to create a genuine mystery' Telegraph The streets of London seethe with rumour and conspiracy as the King's navy battles the French at sea. And while the banks of the Thames swarm with life, a body is dragged from its murky waters. In another part of town, where the air seems sweeter, the privileged enjoy a brighter world of complacent wealth and intoxicating celebrity. But as society revels in its pleasures, a darker plot is played out. Yet some are willing to look below the surface to the unsavoury depths. Mrs Harriet Westerman believes passionately in justice. Reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther is fascinated by the bones beneath the skin. Invited to seek the true nature of the dead man, they risk censure for an unnatural interest in murder. But when the safety of a nation is at stake, personal reputation must give way to the pursuit of reason and truth.