A Fatal Likeness
A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd.
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (August 20, 2013)
Shepherd specializes in historical mysteries, starting with Murder at Mansfield Park (2010). Her latest continues the career of Charles Maddox, first seen in Shepherd’s take on Bleak House, called The Solitary House (2012). Maddox is a mid-nineteenth-century private detective, formerly an officer with London’s Metropolitan Police but fired for insubordination. Now he scratches out a living solving mysteries for clients; he used to be aided by his uncle, a legendary thief-taker, but a stroke has rendered him only intermittingly brilliant. Maddox’s brooding character and Shepherd’s own voice, which uses the present tense in a way that makes it seem as if we are spying on Maddox’s movements, are both enthralling. This mystery centers on papers relating to what happened between Byron, Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin during the summer of 1816 in Switzerland (besides the contest that led to the writing of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). Shelley’s son wants the papers recovered; we soon learn he’s playing a double game. The plot’s revelations sometimes seem as if only a Shelley scholar can understand them, but, overall, this is a solid atmospheric read, sure to be of interest to English majors. --Connie Fletcher
This is the second book I have read by Lynn Shepherd, the first being: The Solitary House, which was a recent review.
I can honestly say that this book is even better then the first book! Wow, talk about "who did what"....
Just when you think you know where things are going, another piece of the puzzle is tossed at you and you completely make a turn around in your thoughts. Then it happens again! And again! This book so many twists and turns I thought I couldn't follow...but I did!
If you like a mystery that makes sure you won't know the ending ..until the ending.. this is the book for you!
The only thing I will say is that in her first book you really get to know Charles Maddox and a little about his family to set things up a bit. The author does cover parts of it at the beginning of the second book in case you don't read the first.
Both are really good books and I love that she uses names of people you recognize!
Well, that's two books I've read this year and both were excellent! I hope the rest of the year goes as well!
Below is the Amazon review for The Solitary House.
The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd.
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bantam;(July 30, 2013)
*Starred Review* Dickens fans will rejoice upon finding characters from Bleak House performing similar roles in Shepherd’s second historical mystery (following Murder at Mansfield Park, 2010) featuring Charles Maddox, thief-taker (a Victorian detective).This reworking of the masterful classic features crooked lawyer Mr. Tulkinghorn, Inspector Bucket, Lady Dedlock, and the not-quite-right Hester (Esther in Bleak House), who begins her narrative with Dickens’ words, “I have a great deal of difficulty in beginning to write . . . for I know I am not clever.” A labyrinthine plot narrated in three voices reveals the underlying motivations and connections of these characters in a story of pervasive deviance so sinister that even those hardened to London’s nineteenth-century underworld will reel in shock. Maddox is manipulated by Tulkinghorn on behalf of the attorney’s wealthy clients to ferret out those who might expose a nasty secret; as the investigation progresses, Maddox finds himself and everyone he knows in the path of a psychotic killer. Shepherd leaves the reader spellbound by masterfully building suspense, creating a pervasively clammy and befogged atmosphere, and offering a cast of unforgettably peculiar characters, making the most of authentic, period language and a soupçon of subtle humor. Those who haven’t read Bleak House will be ready to have a go, while those looking for contemporary read-alikes should be encouraged to try Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith (2002)or Sara Stockbridge’s Grace Hammer (2009). --Jen Baker