Imogen Robertson

Anatomy of Murder

"Mrs Westerman is a satisfyingly forceful heroine..."


This historical novel, set mainly in the Georgian London of 1781, but also encompassing the high seas off Newfoundland, is the second in the series featuring the determined and unconventional Mrs Westerman and her companion with a taste for anatomical dissection and investigation, Mr Crowther. Mrs Westerman's husband, Captain James Westerman, is suffering from a critical head wound and is confined to an asylum as his behaviour is erratic and potentially dangerous.

The discovery of a body floating in the Thames is the start of an investigation which includes every stratum of society from the aristocratic and fashionable to the poor, the devious and the villainous. An insight into the strange world of the castrati and the entertainments enjoyed by the populus develops the rich atmosphere that is the backdrop to a fast moving and complex tale.

Mrs Westerman's determination to discover the truth leads her into many situations not normally encountered by a lady of her social class, but her feisty resolve and disregard for the conventions, together with Mr Crowther's obsessive interest in all things anatomical, mean that in the end the complex plot is unravelled.

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The fine details of this novel describing life amongst the coffee shops of London and aboard one of His Majesty's ships of the line point to a deal of focused research which provides a satisfying and even educative environment in which to place an excellent and gripping plot. The contrasts between the horrific sheds where dead bodies are brought and the ornate and sparkling opera-goers are beautifully made. Life was like that in Georgian London. Mrs Westerman is a satisfyingly forceful heroine who manages to overcome society's disapproval of her actions, partly through support from high places and partly because her unfortunate husband is too ill to remonstrate. Mr Crowther is an odd character with hidden depths and a history not yet fully revealed. Bit by bit a little more is uncovered. His peculiar passion for dissection is, however, crucial to the plot. Mrs Westerman's family and friends are an interesting addition to the characters and provide a group of people whose story adds to the total rich tapestry of the book. Treason and psychic powers intertwine to culminate in an exciting denouement. This is a substantial and extremely satisfying read.

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