Circle of Shadows. Imogen Robertson. Pamela Dorman Books. June, 2013. 384 pp. hbk. ISBN #: 9780670026289.
This is the fourth in a series of historical suspense novels by this author and it’s quite unusual. It involves two sleuths who are British and here attempt to solve their first criminal mystery outside of England, in Germany in 1782. Harriet Westerman is an intelligent, fearless gal whose past history with murder has left some pain and a bit of shadow about her public image. Gabriel Crowther is a bit of a recluse who speaks his mind at all times, no matter how offensively it is taken, but he is also bright and an anatomist, fascinated with the scientific properties of the body for criminal analysis and healing as well. Now they learn that a good friend, Daniel Clode, is accused of murdering Lady Martesen. They immediately leave for the Duchy of Maulberg in German!
First, they discovered that Daniel Clode has been acting like someone who is insane and then they are shocked to find that Lady Martesen was probably killed not by smothering, as originally thought, but by drowning. But how can someone be drowned and have no sign of water anywhere on the clothing or body? Westerman and Crowther are surprised by the fairness of the investigation in Maulberg, a place that is rather an enigma since it is ruled by an absolute dictator who allows them room for investigation perhaps with a slightly hidden financial motive.
Meanwhile other characters such as the brilliant mathematician Pegel appear on the scene and discover the presence of a secret group that is equated with the Free Masons but is not anything like them in reality. in fact, the plot that begins to unfold turns out to be one that could change the face of European governments, one country at a time and not in a healthy productive way!
As the murder took place during the annual Shrove Tuesday celebrations, Daniel Clode was like all other celebrants wearing a mask, one that is part of the plot to undo him as he will be executed if found guilty. But there’s much more to this mystery and the above summary is only a tad of all the clues that are gradually revealed with just the right amount of tension and intrigue, including a notable amount of period description and detail that is very interesting as well as the investigation.
Imogen Robertson is a talented writer who has penned a mystery others have compared to Anne Perry for detail and Tess Gerritsen for forensic evidence. This reviewer couldn’t agree more! Mystery fans and historical fiction fans will love this novel for sure! Very well done and highly recommended!