Island of Bones

Written by Imogen Robertson
Review by Sarah Bower

In 1783, the excavation of an old family tomb in the Lake District reveals a bloody mystery. Called to investigate a murder, Gabriel Crowther is forced to confront his own family history as well as more recent skulduggery. His companion, the redoubtable Harriet Westerman, on the run from her own personal tragedy, is drawn by her young son’s friendship with the local cunning man into the conflict between ancient superstition and modern justice.

This is the third in Imogen Robertson’s series of historical crime mysteries featuring the ascetic Crowther and his spirited companion, but the first I have read. It certainly won’t be my last. Imagine the love child of Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen, throw in the fact that Robertson is also a poet and writes about the landscape of the Lakes with all the passion and acuity of vision of a true Romantic, and you will begin to form an impression of this novel. It is a delight on every level – witty, ingeniously plotted and full of atmosphere, with a cast of engaging characters who are far from the stereotypes of lesser crime fiction. The analytical Crowther and the more intuitive Mrs. Westerman make a formidable team whose history together through the earlier novels is made clear with a light touch that whets this reader’s appetite for more.

Highly recommended, especially if you’re having a staycation in the Lakes this summer. A clever, moving and thoroughly enjoyable read.