Island of Bones
A Gabriel Crowther and Harriet Westerman Mystery by Imogen Robertson
Review: In 1751, Charles William Gabriel Penhaligon became the Third Baron of Keswick when his older brother was hanged for the murder of their father. He immediately renounced his title, sent his younger sister Margaret off to live with relatives in Ireland, changed his name to Gabriel Crowther, and in obscurity began the scholarly study of human anatomy. Thirty years later, Margaret, now the Vizegräfin von Bolsenheim, decides to revisit her childhood home with her young son Felix. While visiting a small island in the middle of a lake on the estate, the site of the crypt containing the body of the property's historical owner, Sir Luke de Beaufoy, 1st Earl of Greta, now in ruins but in the process of being renovated, an unexplained body is found. Margaret suggests the current owner of the property, Mrs. Hetty Briggs, summon her estranged brother to investigate. Gabriel reluctantly agrees to visit, and invites his good friend Mrs. Harriet Westerman to accompany him. But the past is not easily buried and forgotten, as the pair will soon discover in Island of Bones, the third mystery in this series by Imogen Robertson.
There is a strong sense of time and place in this literary-style novel of suspense. The setting is vividly described, creating an atmospheric environment in which the storyline plays out. There aren't an exceptional number of characters, but each is given their own richly drawn identity and detailed backstory. This approach to character development serves the purpose of laying a solid foundation for the subsequent interpersonal relationships between individuals who are either meeting for the first time, or haven't seen each other in decades, but does tend to slow down the pace of Gabriel and Harriet's investigation; indeed, the extra body found on the island is hardly mentioned again until another, more recently dead body is discovered in the woods on the estate about half-way through the book. The real question for readers is, Why is this particular body discovered by this group of people at this time in this place? The apparent unlikely coincidence of this sequence of events is deftly handled by the author, who has crafted an intricate plot that at times seems overly complicated but for which all elements are important and do play a part at some point. Island of Bones is a really quite exceptional novel, a remarkable combination of whodunit, procedural, and journey of discovery.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of Island of Bones for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Island of Bones: Lake District, Cumbria, England
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Island of Bones by Imogen Robertson — A Gabriel Crowther and Harriet Westerman Mystery
Publication Date: October 2012
List Price: $27.95