Selchester Castle in 1953 sits quiet and near-empty, its corridors echoing with glories of the past. Or so it seems to intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth....
The Earl of Wrexford possesses a brilliant scientific mind, but boredom and pride lead him to reckless behavior. He does not suffer fools gladly....
When magistrate Patrick Colquhoun orders a habitual thief and ne'er-do-well transported to Botany Bay, he doesn't realize a 14-year-old boy has been left behind to follow in his father's footsteps....
It's 1811, and the threat of revolution haunts the upper classes of King George III's England. Then a beautiful young woman is found savagely murdered on the altar steps of an ancient church....
Following a humiliating season in London, Lady Elizabeth Fraser is on her way back to her ancestral country estate when her train careens off the rails and bursts into flames....
Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton faces his toughest case yet when a young man is found strangled in Holyrood Park....
An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn....
The third installment of the John Pickett series of humorous mysteries finds Bow Street Runner Pickett in Scotland investigating a woman found unconscious on the beach....
Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise....
With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper-class society....
Cavalry captain Gabriel Lacey returns to Regency London from the Napoleonic wars, burned out, fighting melancholia, his career ended....
March 1934. Revered mystery writer Josephine Tey is traveling from Scotland to London for the final week of her play Richard of Bordeaux, the surprise hit of the season....
For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match....
After a routine delivery, midwife Sarah Brandt visits her patient in a rooming house and finds that another boarder, a young girl, has been killed....
Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, likes nothing more than to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book....
London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria's golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own....
Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister's estate, finding solace in her passion for painting....
High adventure and dark mystery combine in a sparkling historical romance, by Jodi Taylor writing as Isabella Barclay from The Chronicles of St. Mary's....
In the year 1780, Harriet Westerman, the willful mistress of a country manor in Sussex, finds a dead man on her grounds with a ring bearing the crest of Thornleigh Hall in his pocket. Not one to be bound by convention or to shy away from adventure, she recruits a reclusive local anatomist named Gabriel Crowther to help her find the murderer, and historical suspense's newest investigative duo is born. For years, Mrs. Westerman has sensed the menace of neighboring Thornleigh Hall, seat of the Earl of Sussex. It is the home of a once-great family that has been reduced to an ailing invalid, his whorish wife, and his alcoholic second son, a man haunted by his years spent as a redcoat in the Revolutionary War. The same day, Alexander Adams is slain by an unknown killer in his London music shop, leaving his children orphaned. His death will lead back to Sussex and to an explosive secret that has already destroyed one family and threatens many others.
Instruments of Darkness combines the brooding atmosphere of Anne Perry with the complex, compelling detail of Tess Gerritsen, moving from drawing room to dissecting room, from coffee house to country inn. Mrs. Westerman and Mr. Crowther are both razor-sharp minds, and their personalities breathe spirit into this gripping historical mystery.
Yes, I know my title isn't the greatest, but it was the best I could think of to describe my opinion of this book. That said, I may even continue with the series someday. The story was not bad. It held my interest. I have listened to Wanda McCaddon's narration many times and I think she is a fine reader, although at times she seems to be rushing through the story a bit too quickly. This book is a perfect example of that. Another reviewer commented that it is often hard to tell when the story switches between characters and places. This makes it hard to tell where you are in the story and confuses the listener. I found myself hitting the 30-second rewind button frequently. Another reviewer commented that her childrens' voices are irritating; however, I did not find that to be the case. To each their own, I guess. I believe that Ms McCaddon is a more mature woman, but (IMHO) she does a fine job voicing various characters, including men and younger women. She can also give voice to various dialects, which I REALLY appreciate in a narrator. There are many narrators who cannot (it's not easy!). Bad accents can really ruin an audiobook listening experience for me.
I would hope, since this is the first of a series, that the subsequent books get better. The author writes well. This story is interesting, to a point. There are twists that make it suspenseful enough to hold one's attention (I found the manner in which the "yellow man" is dispatched to be quite creative). The characters are fairly well developed and the author does an admirable job of giving just enough information about her characters' backstories to leave listeners wanting to know more. This is a good way to set-up a series.
I would not say it was a waste of time, but neither was it so good that I couldn't put it down. I would urge others to listen for themselves and then share their thoughts with the rest of us. I'd like to hear more opinions about this author/book/narrator.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
Maybe a better writter could have done something with the good components of this book. Very Anne Perry in its rehashing details and events between principle characters. Hard to tell when locations and times switch.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Great combination of manners and murder. I can't wait for the next in the series. Wanda McCaddon is a very good narrator, though her children's voices are irritating. If there were more kids in the book, I don't think I'd be able to listen.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Having taught AP European History for years, i was equipped to appreciate Robertson's cleverly crafted, subtle humor-- delightful. Hadn't expected to laugh so often while listening to Robertson's colorful accounts of murders, dissections and autopsies. The plot line was well designed, and carefully sequenced. I loved how she wove the story through descriptions of actual historical events. I was impressed by her knowledge of British history, interlacing her characters's stories with several of England's significant and intriguing political/cultural occurrences and developments of the time.
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
There were several twists and digressions in the plot that kept us listening to it after we had parked our car, and turned the key to accessory so we could come to the conclusion of a chapter after we had arrived at our destination.
Have you listened to any of Wanda McCaddon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
This was our first. Brilliant performance. We loved her intonations, accents and humor.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Often I have been disappointed when an author wastes the power of the events drawing to a conclusion. Robertson wove every strand of the plot to deliver a fast paced conclusion to each and all of the various strands of the plot-- drawing this book to a conclusion while laying the groundwork for the sequeal.
I used to never read books written in this time period especially if they were mysteries. It just wasn't something I was interested in. Now it almost all I read .. lol. I really like the way Ms Roberson mixes humor in her stories.
Other author I look for are C S Harris, P B Ryan & Anna Lee Huber.
Is there anything you would change about this book?
Chapters beginnings/endings and distinctions between adult characters are nearly impossible to determine.
What did you like best about this story?
I wish I could say. The narration made it nearly impossible to follow. I gave the story a generous 3 stars because I could see the idea was good.
Would you be willing to try another one of Wanda McCaddon’s performances?
No, I am sorry to say. Her voice is pleasing but the execution in combination with the editing was severely lacking.
Did Instruments of Darkness inspire you to do anything?
It inspired me to return it for something intelligible.
Any additional comments?
If this book becomes available with a different narrator, I may give it a chance.
Would you try another book from Imogen Robertson and/or Wanda McCaddon?
I suppose this story could be better if I was reading instead of listening. The transitions between the present and past were too abrupt and ultimately confusing. I couldn't follow the story. The narration didn't promote interest, and the book just made me drowsy. <br/><br/>I usually listen on my commute. Driving and drowsy are a bad combination, so I finally gave up. I seldom ever give up on an audiobook because they are just too expensive. I would not take another chance on this author or narrator.
What do you think your next listen will be?
The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell
I found this book a bit of a difficult listen at first. I haven't read the classic British writers since college when I did enjoy them and the style of this narrative reminded me of those. I persevered and was rewarded with a unique historical mystery and interesting characters. McCaddon is the perfect narrator for the story. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
The author is an excellent writer telling an intriguing story. The characters are well defined and appealing. I enjoyed the fact that Lady Harriet and Crowther are not sexually attracted to each other, their partnership is based on curiosity instead of hormones. I enjoyed the imagery emotions evoked by the author.
That said, I found the story structure odd and distracting. The book is broken into several sections, but the reason for the section breaks is unclear. The ending has an "in conclusion" section and an epilogue. The epilogue is actually a prologue and confused me. It is unnecessary. I don't recall the last time, if ever, having an author call out an "in conclusion" to end a story. Isn't the end generally the conclusion? The intermittent backstory flashbacks for a secondary character are also jarring.
I love Wanda McCaddon as a narrator but this reading is my favorite. It is hard to tell if the lack of breaks, or even breathing space, is in her reading, in the writing, or the editing. I suspect, based on the other structural issues in the story, that the author makes abrupt shifts in point of view without scene breaks.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful
Very happy to be introduced to this new pair of investigators! Also like the fact that it is set in the Georgian period -- just a bit before Jane Austen. Harriet Westerman is the wife of a sea captain who spent time with her husband at sea and now is land-bound. Even though she has chilldren and a large house to supervise, she is eternally curious and likely to do things that women are not known for in her day, such as reading scientific tracts. Her neighbor Gabriel Crowther is an amateur anatomist. He has written one of these tracts proposing that human bodies can tell us about their manner of death, particularly in the case of murder. So when a murder occurs on Harriet's land, she seeks out her anatomist neighbor to help.
The language and portrayal of the customs of the day feel right and are not intrusive to the story. One reviewer I read was appalled by the author's use of water and lemonade as refreshments during that time -- however, that is a minor flaw. The rest of the book reads and sounds accurate.
The story is complex and has two story lines proceeding through almost the entire book. Listening only, I found myself getting lost occasionally. The story frequently switches from one setting and group of characters to another with little or no warning. Sometimes there will be a chapter heading with date and place, but often not. A slight pause in the narration would have been helpful each time the change takes place.
Overall a very good story and likeable characters -- I've put the next two books on my Wish List!
1 of 2 people found this review helpful