Another Review at MyShelf.Com

A Treacherous Likeness
Charles Maddox Series Book II
Lynn Shepherd

Corsair (Constable and Robinson)
7 February 2013 / ISBN: 9781472103529
Historical Mystery / 1850 / London

Reviewed by Rachel A. Hyde

If you have read Tom–All-Alone’s (also reviewed on this site) you will know that Charles Maddox is a private investigator, and perhaps be wondering what literary case he will investigate next.  His new client is none other than Sir Percy Shelley, son of Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame.  He wants Charles to obtain certain papers from somebody who should not, in his opinion, have them.  The person who owns the papers is Claire Clairmont, Mary Shelley’s own half-sister and thus begins a tortuous affair indeed, where Charles’ own uncle is implicated in at least one murder… 

Just as it helped if you had read Bleak House and The Woman in White when reading Tom-All-Alone’s, so does at least some knowledge of the Shelleys and their friends and family when reading this.  This is historical mystery in its more literary form, and once again it is told in the present tense, unraveling before the reader’s eyes.  It is also again told as though by somebody in the present day, mentioning various modern matters which can jar at times, and is also reminiscent of non-fiction.  The author has certainly done her homework here, and you will no doubt spend some time turning back to the highly useful family tree to keep track of who is related to whom.   The gloomy, winter setting of mid Victorian London comes to grimy life in this tortuous tale, and the dark secrets of an earlier generation are slowly brought to light.  It is not a book for those who want lots of action, humor or a quick read as it takes its time, building to a shocking denouement as Charles uncovers more about the Shelleys.  As I said earlier you do need to know something about them already to truly enjoy or even follow this, and you certainly need to be interested in them as they are what the story is about.  This is a work of fiction, but if you have ever wondered what happened to Shelley’s first wife, what it might have been like to be present when Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein and other matters this ought to appeal.

Reviewed 2013