Circle of Shadows
Another instalment detailing the adventures of Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther, an unlikely detective pairing which works in unusual ways, solving crimes others cannot. I missed the previous novel, Island of Bones, and this was certainly a mistake, one reason being that I am certain I missed a good book and the second being that there are quite a few references to events of the earlier novel, particularly with the sub-plot involving Harriet’s desire for revenge against the opera singer and eunuch Manzerotti.
The book begins in the fictional Duchy of Maulberg, just before the important social event of the decade; the marriage of the current duke. Strange ritualistic murders and poisonings are becoming increasingly difficult to keep from the public, and the machinations of the elite who are struggling to gain and retain power are causing trouble. Initially, a relative of Harriet’s, Daniel Clode, is accused of one of the murders and thus faces the executioner’s axe. Mrs Westerman and Mr Crowther must hunt down the culprit(s) and follow complicated clues to unravel the intricate mystery at the heart of the duchy, save Daniel and stop the gruesome murders.
This is an entertaining and well-written novel with many fantastic and fascinating moments. The plot and characters drive the novel, and there is a sense of atmosphere and period throughout. Very enjoyable and therefore recommended highly, but perhaps it’s best to read them in order; the first title is Instruments of Darkness.