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Crowther and Westerman Books In Order

Publication Order of Crowther and Westerman Books

Instruments of Darkness (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Anatomy of Murder (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Island of Bones (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Circle of Shadows (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Theft of Life (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

The Crowther and Westerman series is a series of novels by historical thriller writer Imogen Robertson. Even as it is composed of only five novels, The Crowther and Westerman series of novels has been wildly successful all over the world, and been translated more than ten languages including Czech, Serb, and Japanese. The first novel in the series was Instruments of Darkness, first published in 2009. The novel was a continuation of the first 1000 words that the author first wrote for The Daily Telegraph’s Novel in a Year competition in 2007. With the first novel fast becoming a fan favorite Imogen went on to publish four more titles in the series by 2014. The first 1000 words that she initially wrote went by the name “The Ties that Bind” and appears as a preface at the beginning of Instruments of Darkness. The novels are set in 18th century Sussex, London and further afield in places such as the United States Revolutionary War of 1775. They address the social concerns of the time by following the life and times of two amateur detectives, Mr. Crowther and Mrs. Westerman. In a genre that epitomizes dead level prose and formulaic plotting, the series stands out with its choice of characters and diverse plots. It employs a man and a woman as amateur detectives, which is a fresh and distinctive take. It also has a satisfying serpentine plot with enough distractions and red herrings, which make for an excellent mystery.

The chief protagonists in the series are Harriet Westerman and her sidekick Gabriel Crowther. Harriet Westerman is the mistress of a country house and wife to a navy captain. She has once been at sea where she used to work with her husband before becoming a mother. She is a strong-willed and independent woman who is never afraid to speak her mind. Gabriel Crowther is an anatomist and trained doctor who lives the life of a recluse, away from family and friends. He has poor social graces, and is particularly awkward in the presence of children and women, though he is not necessarily rude. He gave up his career and title decades ago, though he retains the archetypal forensic pathologist look, even if he often comes across as unorthodox. Over the course of the novels, Westerman and Crowther establish a rhythm and divide their sleuthing roles with each working on their strong suits. Crowder’s and Westerman’s family histories are discussed in more detail in the second and third novels. In terms of temperament, Crowther comes across as reflective as compared to Westerman’s more impulsive nature, making for a complementary team. Crowther can work on some of the tasks that require a man such as walking the dangerous streets of Sussex, while Harriet could better relate with people, something that her partner struggles with. Both characters are fully formed at the start of the series, though they are fully fleshed out over the series run.

Focusing on the social history of the 18th century, The Crowther and Westerman series, while set in a seemingly distant time remains very relevant in the modern world. According to the author, the series drew a lot of inspiration from The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England’ by Amanda Vickery. As opposed to novelists such as Jane Austen, Imogen’s The Crowther and Westerman series explores the role of women in society. Through Westerman, it tells the story of women that were not necessarily a part of prominent history, even as they made their contributions in other ways. On the other hand, Crowther is a representation of the workings of the 18th century Justice system that was less institutionalized and more personal. Even as we tend to think that the period was slower as compared to ours, Imogen’s series seems to bust these perceptions in having pace and violence in equal measure. The streets that Westerman and Crowther live in are full of violence just as the inner city streets of London or New York still are. From time to time, the characters have to deal with the gory details of murder such as slashed throats and strangled victims. For Robertson, the novels are all about capturing and recreating how life was during the period in which travel and communication were slower, but life was often brutal and short.

Instruments of Darkness is an intricate page turner that introduces the unlikely forensic duo that sets out to uncover the deadly secrets of a mysterious country estate. It is set in 18th century Sussex, England, where Harriet Westerman the landlady of a country manner stumbles on a dead body bearing the crest of Thornleigh Hall on her estate. She enlists the help of Gabriel Crowther, a reclusive anatomist with the knowledge to help her unravel the mystery. For years, Mrs. Westerman thought that Thornleigh Hall, the neighboring manor seemed to have a weird vibe to it. The home of the Earl of Sussex has fallen from grace and is haunted by an alcoholic son that had fought in the American Revolutionary War and a whorish wife. When unknown assailants kill Alexander Adams in his London music shop, the amateur detectives believe that the murder may have something to do with the bizarre happenings at Thornleigh Hall. Moving from country in to coffee house and from room to room, the death leads them back to Sussex and a dark secret that has torn apart one family, and threatens to do the same to many others.

Anatomy of Murder, the second novel of the Crowther and Westerman series brings back the spirited and smart amateur detectives Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther. 1781 London sees Westerman anxiously waiting for news of her seagoing husband, who is captaining a naval vessel in the battle against France. With London streets full of rumors, a floater is pulled out of the Thames. Gabriel Crowther and Mrs. Westerman that had gained fame for unraveling the Thornleigh case are called in to help with the investigation of the mysterious floater. They soon discover that the dead man was no ordinary man, and that the reason they had been called in was more than an overzealous police department seeking to resolve a crime against an innocent man. It would seem that, the victim has links to an intricate plot to steal and sell England’s secrets to the enemy.

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