'Makes you want to read every word...the plot is serpentine and satisfying, with enough false trails and distractions to create a genuine mystery'. Telegraph. The streets of London see the with rumour and conspiracy as the King's navy battles the French at sea. And while the banks of the Thames swarm with life, a body is dragged from its murky waters. In another part of town, where the air seems sweeter, the privileged enjoy a brighter world of complacent wealth and intoxicating celebrity. But as society revels in its pleasures, a darker plot is played out. Yet some are willing to look below the surface to the unsavoury depths. Mrs Harriet Westerman believes passionately in justice. Reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther is fascinated by the bones beneath the skin. Invited to seek the true nature of the dead man, they risk censure for an unnatural interest in murder. But when the safety of a nation is at stake, personal reputation must give way to the pursuit of reason and truth.
Robertson improves on her impressive debut, Instruments of Darkness (2011), with her second historical starring anatomist Gabriel Crowther and his partner in detection, Harriet Westerman. In the gripping prologue, set in 1781 off the Newfoundland coast, Westerman s husband, the captain of an English warship, captures an intelligence officer from a French vessel he defeats in battle. The captain, after questioning the prisoner, suffers an accidental blow to the head that renders him unconscious. He eventually regains consciousness, but has lost his memory, much to the dismay of government officials in London, who were hoping he could help identify a new foreign spymaster planted on English shores. Meanwhile, the Admiralty enlists Crowther and Westerman to investigate how a man s body that may belong to an operative for the French ended up in the Thames. Memorable prose, strong and unusual leads, a sophisticated plot with several unexpected turns, and an accurate portrayal of the period all make this a winner.