Island Of Bones
- Headline Publishing Group
- Publication Date:
- 29 March 2012
- Historical Adventure
Showing 1-4 out of 4 reviews.
There are some books you finish and want more of, immediately. For me, this is one of those books. I loved the setting, the characters, the mystery --- everything. I’ve been reading a lot of historical mysteries lately, and oddly, they’ve all been series and I’ve started all of them somewhere in the middle rather than from the beginning. The same is true for this book; it’s Robertson’s third book featuring the characters of Mrs. Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther. Surprisingly, this hasn’t dulled my enjoyment one bit. Mrs. Harriet Westerman is a woman still mourning her husband, even after her mourning period is officially over. Now, rather than be a spectacle to pity, she is trying to move forward with her life. When a request arrives to investigate the discovery of an extra body found in a crypt that had been supposedly untouched for many years, the idea of an adventure appeals. Mrs. Westerman, and Gabriel Crowther, a reclusive anatomist, set out for the Lake District to investigate the circumstances surrounding the skeleton. Crowther, also known as Lord Keswick, a title he has shunned and has done all he could to distance himself from not only the title but also his family, meets his past head on when they arrive in the Lake District. Not only is there a dead body and a mystery surrounding it, but Crowther’s sister and nephew are also in residence at Silverside Hall, a place once owned by Crowther and his family until he sold it. A happy family reunion it is not.While the mysteries mount, a strange thing begins to happen --- long held beliefs of the townspeople start taking center stage in the investigation. A lost relic called The Luck, a gold cross embedded with jewels, becomes part of the discussion and makes its way into the investigation of Mrs. Westerman and Crowther. More than one person’s hidden family history comes to light before the mystery is solved.There’s something so very likable about Robertson’s writing. She writes great characters. They’re frank, smart, and surprising. I loved how she took a very relaxing setting and overlaid it with death, local folklore, and a mystery of family proportions that only seemed to grow larger by the day. It all fit so well together. When the story started coming to a close, I wanted more even after the satisfying conclusion. And, yes, there is a satisfying conclusion. I like that in a mystery.Going back to the main characters, Mrs. Westerman and Gabriel Crowther --- I said they were likable but it’s more than that. The two are a strange combination but a combination that works brilliantly. Crowther is a grump of a man, a recluse who takes no pleasure in people except for the few he can tolerate, and yet, his scientific analysis is a fascinating attribute. In fact, it’s an interesting aspect of the story itself and slightly morbid as he does care to spend more time with the dead than the living. Mrs. Westerman is a great counterpoint to his standoffish qualities. I also like unconventional women in historical fiction and she’s certainly unusual for her time. I should point out that the story is set in 1783 and a woman investigating murders is far from the norm.Now that I have used one too many laudatory words in describing what I liked so much about this book, I leave you with this --- read Island of Bones. They’ll be no regrets. I had high hopes for this book and those expectations were met.
Perhaps the best in the series so far. Robertson's really hit her stride here, providing some fascinating backstory for Gabriel Crowther as he and Harriet Westerman travel to his ancestral home, called to investigate an extra body found in an ancient tomb. Robertson hits all the gothic-novel high spots: druidic circles, fairy treasure, mistaken identities, troubled young maidens, &c. &c. Good stuff.
<B>The Book Report</b>: Mrs. Harriet Westerman, Royal Navy wife, and Mr. Gabriel Crowther, anatomist and aristocrat manqué (albeit with a very good reason to have missed the mark), are back in these two volumes, succeeding "INSTRUMENTS OF DARKNESS". Mrs. Westerman is, in "Anatomy," in London because her husband has suffered a grievous injury in the process of taking a very rich prize ship (an eighteenth-century Royal Navy captain made his own and his crew's fortune by capturing enemy ships, not sinking them). Mrs. Westerman has confined him to a hospital to recover, but her friend and neighbor Crowther has followed her to Town, ensuring she will not be bored. In fact, Crowther and Westerman find themselves looking into a series of ever-more-suspicious deaths, embroiling themselves and the families of Westerman and Thornleigh (County neighbors also in London while Thornleigh Hall is restored to its former magnificence after being burned down in the fist book) in the terrifying toils of a spy conspiracy taking place during the closing days of America's war for independence.While there can never be a doubt that Crowther and Westerman will prevail, the cost to them both is always a source of suspense. Mrs. Westerman, a respectable Captain's wife, yet again charges around acting MOST unfeminine and brash, asking questions that powerful people do not want answered and demanding that everyone around her allow her to be herself (horrors!) and follow her own path (gadzooks!). Her proper, missish younger sister informs Mrs. Westerman in no uncertain terms of her behavior's cost to all her family. Crowther is drawn back into the world of aristos and wastrels he left behind without a shred of regret many years before. And, to make matters worse, while he is working out the solution to the dangerous puzzle at hand, he is required to dig up the ghosts of his murdered father and executed brother. All is resolved in the end, of course, but the personal lives of the sleuths are altered in some very significant ways. The stakes rise....And in "Island," the newly upped ante is raised still further! Now Crowther and Westerman are summoned to Crowther's childhood home in the Lake District by none other than Crowther's unpleasant, spoiled, snobbish sister, unseen by the man for more than thirty years. (Thank GOODNESS, one can hear Crowther--and the author--thinking.) Her brat son is involved in some sort of scrape; bones are discovered in the family's old home that should most definitely not be there; and here Mrs. Westerman is, assisting with the anatomization of several of the corpses that pile up wherever the pair appear. Crowther has reason to suspect his nephew of murder, not a great stretch as the said nephew reminds him of his executed murderer brother; Mrs. Westerman's son Stephen, brought to the Lake District for enlightenment and education, is embroiled in the dangerous business of ferreting out truths that the great and the good do not wish to see out; and all concerned are, of course, inalterably changed by their researches and investigations. At the end of this book, the entire series <I>dramatis personae</i> are assembled...it is a very moving finale. What Robertson plans for the enxt installment in the series, I cannot imagine. It will need to be a doozy to top this one. <B>My Review</B>: I don't have a lot to say about the books, except I think any mystery lover who is also a history buff will enjoy the series. I very much enjoy the books myownself. I suspect that the author's somewhat stately choice of style, no contractions, no anachronisms, could pall on some readers. For me, it was a genuine pleasure. I like these books, and find them quite involving and well-made in novel terms. As mysteries, they are quite good enough...but not first-rank puzzlers. It's not why I am reading them, so I'm not disappointed. More of the Christie style, where the journey is the point, than the Sayers tradition, where the puzzle is very tightly crafted. Go in with your expectations properly calibrated, and these are delightful entertainments.
Island of Bones is an historical mystery set in eighteenth century Keswick. I am left in no doubt of this. The novel evokes the raw beauty of the Lake District and gives me enough historical snippets and insights to keep me securely within the period.I first meet Crowther at the execution of his elder brother and the Prologue hooks me in. Unfortunately, skipping forward 32 years to the novel 'proper', it all becomes a little tedious and I put the book down for a while.There is nothing wrong with the plot and it reaches a satisfying conclusion, but it takes me too long to get to it. This novel is not, for me, a 'page turner'. There are a lot of characters, planting false trails along the way. I think perhaps too many for, whilst I did not solve the mystery before it's climax, things did tend to get a little too confusing.The protagonists, Crowther and Westerman, are quite successful as a mismatched pair but the nature of their relationship remains a mystery to me. By the end of the novel they have not compelled me to read the first two books in this series. I am more aware of the relationship between Westerman's son, Stephen, and his tutor which is painted with subtle impact. They are a pleasant inclusion in the drama that unfolds.I understand Westerman, her character is well rounded, possibly because she interacts more with the supporting characters than Crowther does. Crowther himself upsets me in the opening pages by acting like a much younger man, flouncing into Westerman's salon, and from then on I find myself out of sorts with any further character building on his part.Casper is by far my favourite character and I would like to learn more about him, and Agnes who I feel is a little too shadowy. Personally, I would like hear more of the ancient ways sitting alongside modern ideas in terms of both faith and science. I like Crowther a little more for his respect of Casper.As I say, the novel reaches a satisfactory conclusion for me but, as I set it aside, I doubt I shall return to the Crowther and Westerman series. It has been the Lake District and its local characters that has kept me reading, not the protagonists.
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