Thursday, 22 August 2013

A Treacherous Likeness by Lynn Shepherd

You might remember Lynn Shepherd's previous detective story, Tom-All-Alone's, which featured her energetic private investigator, Charles Maddox, and recaptured the world of Dickens.

In A Treacherous Likeness, Charles is hired by Sir Percy Shelley, the son of the famous Romantic poet, and his ailing mother, Mary Shelley, author of the novel, Frankenstein. The family are keen to protect the good name of the late poet from the publication of scandalous documents.

This throws Charles’s household into a spin, because thirty years ago, Charles’s Uncle Maddox had dealings with the Shelleys, a case that clouded his life and which now upsets the old man so much it destroys his health. Charles soon discovers that it is his uncle’s case notes that the Shelleys are really worried about, and these are missing.

As he begins his investigations, Charles slowly pieces together the story of Percy Shelley, his demons and the women in his life, particularly Mary and her step-sister Claire Claremont. The Shelleys’ marriage has been marred by terrible heartbreak with the loss of their small children. Uncle Maddox has asked the difficult question: could there be a sinister explanation for this?

Lynn Shepherd has done an enormous amount of research to come up with a theory that is both plausible and daring for what happened to the Shelleys all those years ago. Although the novel may not read like a typical murder mystery – there aren’t the bodies, clues and run-ins with criminals - it is every bit as thrilling and keeps the reader guessing to the end.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue Link: A Treacherous Likeness

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