Reviews by L. J. Roberts

IMOGEN ROBERTSON – Anatomy of Murder. Headline, UK, hardcover, 2010.

Genre:   Historical mystery. Leading characters:   Harriet Westerman & Gabriel
Crowther; 2nd in series. Setting:   England-Georgian era/1781.

First Sentence:   Captain Westerman was in his cabin reading the letter from his wife for the fourth time when he heard the officer of the morning watch ring Six Bells.


    Mrs. Harriet Westerman and her friend, anatomist Gabriel Crowther, are once again embroiled in solving a murder. However, the stakes are even higher as they deal with treason against England during the Revolutionary War.

    In a much less elegant part of London, a Tarot-card reader sees the impending murder of one of her clients. Although she fails in preventing the murder, she is determined to bring the woman’s killers to justice.

    Beginning with an exciting and dramatic scene, this is one of those can’t-stop-until-I-finish-it books. Ms. Robertson’s writing is atmospheric and insightful with a strong sense of time and place, subtle, wry humor, a marvelous voice and style which evoke the period and the emotions of the characters.

    I found it fascinating to see the Revolution from the English perspective. Harriet, intuitive and more able to relate to others, and Crowther, the cold, analytic scientist, balance each other well.

    Harriet is someone who, as a real person, I should like very much. We learn more of Crowther and his past, which hints of much more to come. I am enjoying the evolution of their relationship despite the differences in the ages and natures.

    All the characters are alive and wonderful. It’s nice to see the characters from the first book, including Molloy, and meet the delightful new characters Jocasta, Sam and Boyo. (I did feel a cast of characters would have been helpful.)

    The captivating plot, good twist, the way in which the threads were brought together was wonderful. Set in 1781 during the Revolution, the story deals with traitors, murder and opera with a touch of the metaphysical. It takes you from the Opera house and salons of the wealthy to the meanest slums of London revealing the apathy and cruelty which resides in each.

    Ms. Robertson is one of the best new-to-me-authors I’ve found this year. Her writing is insightful with interesting observations on celebrity worship, and encourages one to look at things from a different perspective. It is not often that events in a book make me truly cry, but it speaks to speaks to an author’s skill that her writing evokes strong emotion.

    Anatomy of Murder was an excellent read but I recommend starting with her first book. I can’t wait for her next book.

Rating:   Excellent.

    The Harriet Westerman & Gabriel Crowther series —

1. Instruments of Darkness (2009)


2. Anatomy of Murder (2010)
3. Island of Bones (2011)