Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson

This is a very easy book to read.  It’s a period drama/murder mystery set in the mid (I think) 18th century.  The main characters are Gabriel Crowther,  a reclusive gentleman who lives alone and uses his time studying anatomy, and Harriet Westerman, wife of a navy Commander who is running her estate in Caverley Park, West Sussex and lives with her younger sister Rachel.  I think that the stories around these two have been drawn very well allowing them to be more adventurous than counterparts of that era would have been.  For example, Mrs Westerman, has travelled all over the world with her husband and seen such a variety of sights that, whilst being a lady, she isn’t squeamish or afraid to speak her mind.  Mr Crowther, through his shunning of society has gained almost a ‘bogey man’ type of reputation and yet his character is intelligent, dry and of course a gentleman.

Gabriel and Harriet strike up a partnership following the discovery of a murder victim in the woods surrounding the park where they live.  Harriet suspects foul play by some of the inhabitants of Thornleigh Hall – the seat of the Earl of Essex.  The Thornleighs enjoy great wealth and all the power and authority that this naturally brings.  Therefore in pursuing an investigation in which the Thornleighs are cast in a bad light could be very dangerous, particularly to Harriet whose reputation could be sullied in the process.

The story follows two different threads – the investigation being undertaken by the above duo and the story of Alexander Adams and his family who live in London.  Alexander – or Adam Thornleigh  – is actually the missing her to the Thornleigh estate.  Adam left the estate many years ago to marry for love.  The match being unsuitable to his status.  Adam was aware of the dark mystery surrounding his family and wanted to escape the dark and evil confines of his home.

I thought this book was a really good, believable, period drama.  There are elements of detective work, a dark gothic feel and a good build of tension at the end.  I feel as though Imogen has written a believable and interesting period drama – it almost feels like a book actually written during that period and fans of Austen and other books of that era will no doubt enjoy this book.

If I have any criticisms they would only be minor ones.  I think that the ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ are very black and white and therefore a little bit obvious and predictable.  Also, I would love to know why there are so many book covers with gates on the front.  Can we have a different image please as this one is greatly overused.

I would definitely recommend this novel to anybody who enjoys period novels and I look forward to reading the second novel.

Rating B+

Instruments of Darkness

Instruments of Darkness

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