Music, murder and mystery... not strictly in that order...
Anatomy of Murder interlocks the quintessential historical whodunit a la Sherlock Holmes with the practicality of the modern forensic pathologist – think: Silent Witness meets Jane Austen. Set in the late 18th Century, the story is taken up where it was left off in Instruments of Darkness, pushing together once more the contrary and ridiculously sublime duo of Mr Crowther and Mrs Westerman.
Mrs Harriet (Harry) Westerman, wife of Captain Westerman, is an unconventional woman unwilling to bow to the conventions of her time. Determined and more than a little terrifying, somehow she manages to influence the reclusive Mr Crowthers and assist him in his bloody pursuit of truth and justice. Gabriel Crowther is something of a social oddity; an enigmatic individual, he actively shuns company, preferring the solitude of his own thoughts and the instruments of science. Out of his gruesome obsession with the human body, Crowthers has a developed his particular specialism that these days would make him a forensic pathologist.
In Anatomy of Murder, intrigue, conspiracy, murder and espionage are thrown into the melting pot as the spirited Mrs Westerman and the eccentric Mr Crowther are set the task of unravelling the elusive thread that joins the discovery of a dead musician, His Majesty’s Theatre, the Admiralty and the pretentious Lord Carmichael. The nucleus seems to point to the presence of a spy ring in the heart of London; however, disinterring the secrets that are buried within the addled mind of Mrs Westerman’s husband prove to be of just as much importance.
Evoking the era with understated elegance, Robertson swathes her sumptuous style in the modesty of a shawl; producing a piece of enviably accessible historical fiction that gathers pace, is wonderfully vibrant and richly atmospheric with a dash of the supernatural in the form of Mrs Blithe, a lowly tarot card reader. Anatomy of Murder is thoroughly enjoyable, constructed with considerable care and a good deal of warmth and talent. This is a marvellous series that offers the reader an amusing discourse on the social niceties required of individuals of various social standing, a minor lesson on Nautical tactics, the mob-mindedness of the London streets, all tripping along nicely next to a thrilling murder mystery – utter bliss!
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012