Circle of Shadows by Imogen Robertson
“Every novel comes about through a mix of accident and design. Circle of Shadows was born out of a very selfish desire to find out more about the Holy Roman Empire in the 18th century, a book on an alchemist who set up his own version of Freemasonry, a silver swan and a carnival mask,” says Imogen Robertson about her latest book, released today, Circle of Shadows.
When Harriet Westerman hears that her brother-in-law Daniel has been accused of murder, she and her friends head to Germany to clear his name. As the investigation continues, secrets and conspiracies around the Duke of Maulberg’s court reveal themselves and the murder points to something a great deal bigger. Their journey across Europe brings them to an alien and capricious land, full of lies and shadows, where no one can be trusted.
While at a nobility dance at a masked ball, the beautiful Lady Martesen is also murdered. Daniel Clode is found by her body, his wrists slit and his memories nightmarish. What has he done? Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther race to the Duke of Maulberg’s court to save Daniel from the executioner’s axe. There they find a capricious Duke on the point of marriage, a court consumed by luxury and intrigue and a bitter enemy from the past.
After another cruel death, they must discover the truth, no matter how horrific it is. Does the answer lie with the alchemist seeking the elixir of life? With the automata makers in the Duke’s fake rural idyll? Or are the poisonous lies oozing around the court as the elite strive for power?
Imogen Robertson’s new thriller, set in late 18th-century Germany, is entirely absorbing. Though one of a series, I read it as a standalone book and it really does stand alone. The multiple narratives are atmospheric and distinctive and, whilst it’s written in a style significant of the setting in Germany in the 1700s (which works perfectly) the chemistry between characters is contemporary and infectious. The plot is expansive – tending towards evasive and ambiguous at times – but when all the links become clear it is a deeply rewarding read. Circle of Shadows is a must-have.
Circle of Shadows is the fourth book in a series of Westerman and Crowther Mysteries, set in Germany. The previous three novels by the same author are: Instruments of Darkness, Anatomy of Murder and Island of Bones.