Sentence: The room is dark, lit by only a single candle
on the surface of a rough wooden table.
Widow Harriet Westerman receives a letter from her newly married
sister, Rachel. In Germany, where they are touring, Rachel's
husband, Daniel Clode, was found in a locked room with the
body of Lady Martesen. Although very confused, seeming to
have attempted suicide and having no memory, Daniel is imprisoned
and awaiting execution for murder. Harriet, with her friends;
anatomist Gabriel Crowther, Daniel's employer Owen Graves
and Michaels, landlord of the local inn who insists on overseeing
their travels, travels to the Duchy of Maulbery. There they
find a Duke preparing for his wedding, an enemy, intrigue
and several more deaths.
Robertson has a very intriguing style. The prologue both compels
and slightly baffles us. The wonderfully evocative descriptions
of the story's first chapter informs us that a crime has occurred
so that the intrigue is presented, possible ramifications
established, and many of the characters introduced with an
overview of their backgrounds established. It is a very satisfying
The characters drive the story, and they are characters about
who we very much care. For those of us who are Jane Austen
fans, one sees shades of Mrs. Croft (Persuasion)
and Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility) and the
characters of Harriet and Crowther. Harriet is very much a
person one would like to be. She has strength, but not false
courage. She is intelligent, traveled and capable. ..."Harriet
tilted her head to one side. "I was going to stab him
with one of Mr. Al-Said's files, but he provided a pistol
so I almost shot him instead. I hate to say it, but I think
having the opportunity to do so, and not killing him, has
done me a great deal of good." Each of the characters
is memorable and significant to the story and it's hard to
say enough about them without this review becoming as long
as the book itself. There isn't a cameo player among them,
even if their role is small.
Robertson's voice and style are very special. There is elegance
to her writing. Her descriptions are evocative; her ability
to convey emotion is visceral. Her voice is neither modern
yet doesn't focus on being of the period. It is conveyed through
scenes and narrative, such as Harriet her musing on the comparison
of her beginning an intimate with her late husband, as opposed
to what may possibly have been her sister's experience. Her
dialogue is always to be appreciated ..."Are you encouraging
me to speculate, Crowther?" ..."I suppose I am to
a degree. I will try not to do so again."
The plot is not a simple one. Beginning from the first page,
we are uncertain as to the road on which we travel. One must
pay attention to the details, and it is very well worth so
doing. As with the characters, every aspect is significant.
This isn't a story to skim, but neither is one tempted so
to do as each page is engrossing.
Circle of Shadows is an excellent read. For me, it
is the best book, so far, in the series. That is saying quite
a lot as this is a series I truly love.
of other titles in this series
of Bones #3
of Shadows #4