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Anatomy of Murder

London, 1781. Secrecy, ambition, deadly conspiracy.

Book 2 of the critically acclaimed Crowther & Westerman series

Image: The Rider-Waite tarot deck (originally published 1910). The cards were drawn by illustrator Pamela Colman Smith from the instructions of academic and mystic A. E. Waite, and published by the Rider Company.


     The second historical suspense novel in Imogen Robertson’s critically acclaimed Westerman and Crowther mystery series.

     London, 1781. Harriet Westerman anxiously awaits news of her husband, a ship’s captain who has been gravely injured in the king’s naval battles with France. As London’s streets seethe with rumor, a body is dragged from the murky waters of the Thames.
     Having gained a measure of fame as amateur detectives for unraveling the mysteries of Thornleigh Hall, the indomitable Mrs. Westerman and her reclusive sidekick, anatomist Gabriel Crowther, are once again called on to investigate. In this intricate novel, Harriet and Crowther will discover that this is no ordinary drowning—the victim is part of a plot to betray England’s most precious secrets.

Reviewed by Publisher's Weekly

     "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.


What are people saying about Anatomy of Muder?

A labyrinthine mystery in the heart of a teeming London, involving fashionable castrati, espionage and bodies in the Thames.

We are immersed in Harriet’s London, and the city is evoked with a Dickensian exuberance… In the overcrowded field of historical fiction, Robertson has the smarts comfortably to outpace most of her rivals.”

The Independent (UK)

A new Imogen Robertson book is fast becoming something of an event. …this follow-up does not disappoint.  As ever, the characters are enticing and the plot absorbing. If you’ve not read the previous books, do not despair–they each stand alone. But if you have time on your hands, now is your chance to catch up."
Daily Mail (UK)

 London swirls with pomp and intrigue, the Admiralty is dealing with the American Revolution and French spies, and a headstrong woman and her reclusive fellow detective are called upon to discover the story behind a drowning that may be more than it seems. Meandering between the lowest of slums and the glitter of the opera house Anatomy of Murder is a charming page-turner.” 
— Becky Milner,

Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

The pleasure lies in the steady unfurling of a period crime series (1781) that doesn’t rely on declamatory villains and rhubarbing local colour. Robertson’s language is spry and digestible, her scene-setting broad and detailed, her prose gracefully pressed into the service of a serpentine plot that still allows room for personal passions, particularly music and the theatre.

Backstage, her heroine sees the painted cast as monsters – she’ll be seeing a lot more of that as she digs deeper into English society."

– Christopher Fowler, Financial Times


A note from the author

The Anatomy of Murder 1781

The research for Instruments strayed into the music of the 18th century as I thought about Susan’s world, and I knew I wanted to know more. I started to think about the stars of the opera houses of the period, the equivalent of our film stars today, and the ambiguous period they occupied in society. There seemed to be plenty of opportunity for intrigue there. I’m also a huge Patrick O’Brien fan, and wanted to explore Harriet’s relationship with her husband, a naval hero in a time of war. I was on holiday in Vancouver while I was working out what to write, and found a pack of tarot cards in a shop while I was waiting to meet a friend. I began to use it to think about what my plot might be and Jocasta arrived with her dog Boyo at her heels.


Articles about Anatomy of Murder

Here are a selection of articles, blogs, and resources about Anatomy of Murder and taken from the news page.


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