Island of Bones by Imogen Robertson
12 August, 2013
So it looks like I’m going through a Harriet & Crowther fest. But you know, I’d forgotten how utterly absorbing it is to read a series one book after the other without distraction. And so onto the third book of Imogen Robertson’s historical mysteries featuring Mrs. Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther, Island of Bones. Like with any series, I prefer reading the books in order and do feel that you gain a better insight into the characters as their relationships mature through the series. And it bugs me if I don’t know everything about their past. But each to their own.
Slowly recovering from the events of two years ago in Anatomy of Murder, Harriet is chafing at the bit, stuck at home, trying to be a good mother and sister. When her reclusive neighbour and friend, Gabriel Crowther receives a letter from his estranged sister who is a guest at what used to be their family home in Cumbria, she jumps at the chance to solve the mystery of a long-buried body found on what the locals call the Island of Bones and to try and support Crowther as he finally stops running and faces his past. For Crowther is Baron Keswick, son to a murdered father and brother to a convicted murderer. But there is something not quite right and Jocasta Bligh, who had helped them in Anatomy of Murder, had witnessed a strange man in green near the dead Baron’s body before she was branded a liar and left her, and Crowther’s, home town so long ago.
Returning after almost 30 years, Crowther soon realises that a tragic error may have been made and in trying to discover the secrets behind the mysterious body, he uncovers his family’s history bloodliy intertwined with those of the Earls of Greta, defeated and exiled as supporters of the Jacobite rebellion and from whom Crowther’s father had bought his lands.
We finally get to uncover Crowther’s tragic past and although this doesn’t reveal that much more of Crowther’s character, it introduces us to a bit of Jacobite history together with some interesting family dynamics and financial arrangements of the gentry. And with it is embedded the local superstitions and the deep ties that bind the local people with their lord and their land.
I enjoyed reading this book even more than the previous two and learnt a little of Jacobite history of which I was ignorant. Robertson is once again on the ball with mixing history and mystery. She doesn’t shy away from introducing unpleasant characters, this time in the guise of Crowther’s sister whose traumatic past has left deep marks on her character even though she has made an advantageous marriage and lives a life of luxury. Crowther too sheds a skin as he faces his past head on and Harriet slowly regains herself as she takes a break from her duties at home.
Next up is Circle of Shadows.