7.15.2013

Books: Island of Bones by Imogen Robertson

The third of the Crowther & Westerman books is as solid as the previous two, though it seems Robertson dips farther into mysticism with each turn. The second book, Anatomy of Murder, featured a Tarot reader whose intuition led her to help in the case, and in Island of Bones we are coincidentally introduced to the Tarot reader's brother, a cunning man from Crowther's own home territory. (Which means, of course, that the Tarot reader was also from that area, though she was sent away at a young age.)

Not that I mind the metaphysical elements of either book; in some ways I suppose it makes a nice counterpoint to the ├╝ber rational and logical Crowther and Westerman. It's really all the coincidences that bother me. I mean, some would say there is no such thing as coincidence, and while I'm not sure if that's 100% true, some coincidences do seem to be far too, well, coincidental to be accident or luck. So I'm left to wonder if the readers of these books are supposed to take the coincidences on faith, or are we supposed to believe there is some higher power (like the white woman the cunning man sees) drawing things together.

Well, and in some ways all this distracts from the core story. Which in Island of Bones involves a long-dead body discovered on Crowther's old family estate (well, an island in the river that belongs to the estate—the island, that is, not the river). And so of course Crowther is sent for in the hopes he might shed light of some kind on the dead man. Meanwhile, Crowther's estranged sister and her son also happen to be staying a the old family home, which is now owned by the Briggs family . . . And then more murders, of course, and the need to unravel some of Crowther's past in order to figure it all out.

It is a fun way, perhaps, to learn more about Crowther, though oddly enough the book tips toward spending more time with Harriet Westerman and others of Crowther's old stomping grounds than with him directly. I can say, too, that the culprit was pretty easy to identify because he was the one character the reader did not get any background on, nor did we see anything from his point of view. This omission more or less pointed a big red arrow at him as the bad guy.

But despite that, Robertson has once again used her strong prose to paint a vivid picture, not only of her main characters (who by now we've begun to know pretty well in any case), but of all the supporting cast, and of the countryside where the events in this novel take place. I admire Robertson's writing style and enjoy her characters, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

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