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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Circle of Shadows by Imogen Robertson

Another interesting escapade featuring Harriet Westerman and her friend Gabriel Crowther the anatomist.  Circle of Shadows is set in Maulberg, a fictitious dukedom in Germany, in 1784.  When a strange and apparently senseless murder occurs in Maulberg, Daniel Clode, Harriet's brother-in-law is arrested,  as Daniel was found with the body, incoherent and bleeding.  Given the circumstances, few doubt his guilt, and unless the guilty party can be found, Daniel will be executed.  Fortunately, connections in England that affect Maulberg's finances allow for delay, and the English contingent rushes to Maulberg to see if they can discover the real murderer and save Daniel's life.

I like Harriet and Crowther a great deal, but in this novel other characters play larger roles as well.  The infamous castrato  Manzerotti appears at court, causing Harriet much personal distress, but his character is fascinating.  I liked District Officer Krall, Jacob Pegel (the young man employed and mentored by Manzerotti in his spy operation), and the brothers who produce the marvelous automata for the Duke and other wealthy clients.  A series featuring Manzerotti and Pegel would be interesting.

The plot is a little fantastic, but the characters carry the show. This is the 4th novel in this series, but I missed the second one and will be checking my library.  It is not necessary to begin this series with the first novel; each novel can stand on its own.  That said, my favorite is Instruments of Darkness, the first novel, that establishes the relationship between Harriet and the reserved and antisocial Gabriel Crowther.

The Westerman/Crowther Series in Order:
Instruments of Darkness
Anatomy of a Murder (TBR)
Island of Bones
Circle of Shadows

NetGalley/Penguin Group, Viking.

Mystery/Historical fiction.  June 13, 2013.  Print version:  384 pages.
  • ISBN-10: 0143120409


  1. I love a good historical mystery. Will have to add this to my mysteries to check out!

  2. I hope you will enjoy this series!

  3. Hmmm, sounds interesting. If I ever get around to reading a fraction of the books I want to, I would take your advice and start with the first one.

  4. Having a forensic anatomist in the late 1700's is compelling. I like the adventures of Harriet and Gabriel.