11 March 2011

Imprint Friday: Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Pamela Dorman Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Start with a little mystery, murder, and forensics. Then add a recluse anatomist and a pushy woman, stir in a bit of humor, and set it all in late-eighteenth-century England. Give the mix to author Imogen Robertson, and you'll end up with a great first in series: Instruments of Darkness.

Here's the publisher's summary:

In the year 1780, Harriet Westerman, the willful mistress of a country manor in Sussex, finds a dead man on her grounds with a ring bearing the crest of Thornleigh Hall in his pocket. Not one to be bound by convention or to shy away from adventure, she recruits a reclusive local anatomist named Gabriel Crowther to help her find the murderer, and historical suspense's newest investigative duo is born.

For years, Mrs. Westerman has sensed the menace of neighboring Thornleigh Hall, seat of the Earl of Sussex. It is the home of a once-great family that has been reduced to an ailing invalid, his whorish wife, and his alcoholic second son, a man haunted by his years spent as a redcoat in the Revolutionary War. The same day, Alexander Adams is slain by an unknown killer in his London music shop, leaving his children orphaned. His death will lead back to Sussex, and to an explosive secret that has already destroyed one family and threatens many others.

Instruments of Darkness combines the brooding atmosphere of Anne Perry with the complex, compelling detail of Tess Gerritsen, moving from drawing room to dissecting room, from coffee house to country inn. Mrs. Westerman and Mr. Crowther are both razor-sharp minds and their personalities breathe spirit into this gripping historical mystery.
Crowther and Westerman are the perfect partners, they just don't know it on the June morning they meet to view a dead body. Crowther is initially put off by Harriet, who tries too hard to prove that she's both smart and no delicate flower. Soon, however, Crowther learns to respect his headstrong neighbor. The murder is well plotted, and once the principal players and victims are introduced, it's an engrossing read. Although the story is fiction, Robertson includes historical figures and details to add a degree of veracity.

Here are some other thoughts:
  • Mary Ann Gwinn, writing for the Seattle Times, says: "A ripping homage to Dickens, Austen and Conan Doyle, 'Instruments of Darkness' will keep you up at night, and then, like me, waiting for the sequel."
  • Bernadette from Reactions to Reading, wrote: "Though the plot is excellent it is the characters that are the real stars of the novel, offering something for everyone's taste."
  • Jason Goodwin, writing for the New York Times, concludes: "Robertson writes very well. There is history here, and repartee, and the shadows of truncated plots left delicately unexplored. And who, as the shadows lengthen on our lawns, could ask for more?"
Instruments of Darkness is an Indie Next Pick for March 2011. Pamela Dorman Books has posted an author interview and reading group guide. Imogen Robertson has both a website and a blog.

Pamela Dorman Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Pamela Dorman's introductory letter, posted here on December 3, 2010.

Instruments of Darkness at Powell's
Instruments of Darkness at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Viking / Pamela Dorman Books, February 2011
ISBN-13: 9780670022427


Jenn's Bookshelves 3/11/11, 8:13 AM  

Wow! Sounds like quite the book! I'm adding it to my "must read" list! Thanks for featuring it!

Heather 3/11/11, 9:15 AM  

This sounds great. I have now added it to Mt. TBR. Thanks.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 3/11/11, 9:56 AM  

OOH This does sound really good!

Zibilee 3/11/11, 11:05 AM  

The fact that this one was compared to Dickens and Conan-Doyle makes me want to get my hot little hands on it very soon. Very excellent post, Beth. I am very intrigued by this book!

Darlene 3/11/11, 11:49 AM  

You're right. I'll be adding this to my wishlist!

Martha@Hey, I want to read that 3/11/11, 1:45 PM  

This sounds fantastic. I'm going to have to add this to (and I thank Heather for my new favorite name) Mt. TBR.

Michelle 3/11/11, 6:19 PM  

The cover looks haunting. Fitting for a mystery for sure!

Beth Hoffman 3/12/11, 8:03 AM  

Goodness! "A ripping homage to Dickens..."

This will go on my list for sure!

Swapna 3/12/11, 9:40 AM  

I just received this one for review, and for some reason it hadn't been on my radar. I'm really eager to get to it!

Rebecca Rasmussen 3/12/11, 12:47 PM  

I'm w/ Swapna -- I hadn't heard of this book, but I am excited about it now :)

Barbara 3/12/11, 2:12 PM  

The lead characters in this one sound delightful and the story intrigues me too. It's going on my list.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 3/13/11, 8:38 AM  

I am very excited about this one as well and just picked it up at the library.

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