Genre: Historical Mystery
Published: Headline (Mar 2012)
Pages: 466 (Paperback)
Source: BookDagger RealReaders
About the Book:
Cumbria, 1783. A broken heritage; a secret history...
The tomb of the first Earl of Greta should have lain undisturbed on its island of bones for three hundred years.When idle curiosity opens the stone lid, however, inside is one body too many. Gabriel Crowther's family bought the Gretas' land long ago, and has suffered its own bloody history. His brother was hanged for murdering their father, the Baron of Keswick, and Crowther has chosen comfortable seclusion and anonymity over estate and title for thirty years. But the call of the mystery brings him home at last.
Travelling with forthright Mrs Harriet Westerman, who is escaping her own tragedy, Crowther finds a little town caught between new horrors and old, where ancient ways challenge modern justice. And against the wild and beautiful backdrop of fells and water, Crowther discovers that his past will not stay buried.
The story starts in 1751 at the Tower of London on the eve of the execution of Gabriel's brother who has been found guilty of the murder of their father. There seems to be no love lost between the two brothers.
Next the time moves on to 1783 where an old tomb on the Island of Bones is found to contain a body that should not be there - could these two events be connected?
Attempting to solve the mystery are two unlikely friends -- Gabriel Crowther (a straight talking man in his fifties who has become quite renowned at ferreting all sorts of information from a body) and the recently widowed Mrs Harriet Westerman, a strong-minded thirty year old woman who is not a conventional 18th century lady! What really worked best in this book was their unusual relationship and I do wonder how people of that time looked upon them. Not that either of them cared much for convention.
I also loved the folklore of the Lake District when people believed in fairies and bogles and witches......plus an assortment of interesting characters like Casper Grace, a cunning man who most of the people trusted more than the doctors of the time to treat their ailments.
I found the story quite slow moving at first as we meet all the characters while the plot moved at a snail's pace but I soon immersed myself into the complex story and, by the end, I was quickly turning the pages to discover the secrets and twists in the tale, mainly due to the multiple narratives which really added to the intriguing plot.
This is the third in the Crowther & Westerman series and there are just enough references to the past stories to give you an idea of what has been happening earlier.
This is a compelling story that intrigues me enough to want to read more of this unlikely partnership.
The website of Imogen Robertson can be found here.