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A Dark Anatomy: A Mystery Hardcover – 22 May 2012
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- Publisher : Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (22 May 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 359 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250006724
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250006721
- Dimensions : 16.41 x 3.19 x 24.31 cm
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And I also expected some sort of lengthy introduction to the characters and the setting, and to experience the moment when the two title characters of the series meet and become friends. But no. Not for Blake. We are thrown straight into the world as it stands with no messing about, for a mystery waits to be untangled. That was rather refreshing, I think, for ‘origin stories’ can often take up enough of a first book that they rather eclipse the plot. Not so: Dark Anatomy.
The plot of this first book revolves around a squire’s wife found dead in the woods with a cut throat. But this is no simple murder. Far from it. For there lurk deep undercurrents of dissatisfaction among the locals, marital troubles, potential dark magicks brought back from the New World, troublesome con-men, secretive itinerant workers, stolen bodies and so much more. I won’t delve any deeper into the plot than that for fear of spoilers. But suffice it to say that I had more than one surprise as the plot unfolded. The plot itself was a work of genius and if anything is better than the other two I read, for the solution is simply masterful and ingenious.
Blake paints a picture of Regency north-west England that is at once realistic and immersive, and yet accessible and eminently readable. His characters are believable and the protagonists sympathetic. The whole thing comes out as a well-wrapped package of mystery that will give you a few very happy hours opening.
I highly recommend all Robin Blake’s books, but start with this one.
A cleverly crafted mystery with an unexpected plot twist, this is also a well-researched piece of historical fiction. What's most impressive is the sense of authenticity that derives not only from the inclusion of period detail but also from the narrative voice which perfectly evokes the patient, meticulous and slightly fussy character of the embattled coroner as he weighs the conflicting claims of duty and conscience.