I very much enjoyed Imogen Robertson's Anatomy of murder, the second in her series of historical detective stories featuring the naval officer's wife, Harriet Westerman, and her friend, the amateur anatomist, Gabriel Crowther. There are numerous mentions in this volume of events from volume one (Instruments of darkness), but this helps to reinforce the narrative of volume two, and enables the reader who hasn't read volume one to enter fully into the relationships of Anatomy of murder. The story is set in 1781. Westerman's husband is seriously injured in an accident while at sea shortly after the opening of the novel, which might be the work of French spies, so when Harriet is asked to investigate a murder which appears to have links to espionage, she is only too eager to help. Meanwhile in a very different part of London, Jocasta, a fortune teller, is also drawn into investigating a murder. Gradually the two threads of the narrative entwine around each other and draw the two disparate groups of characters together.
I loved the background to this tale, primarily set in the world of Italian opera in London, and the music shops that surrounded the theatres. Robertson has done her research well, and the central characters are engaging and likeable. I was especially pleased to see later on in the narrative that there was the possibility that Jocasta, Sam and Molloy (not to mention Boyo the dog) were likely to reappear in a later volume. As a crime story it's also pretty good, with a great piece of detective work on the part of Jocasta, balanced by an espionage story being investigated by Crowther and Westerman.
The period is brought dazzlingly to life. I'm sure that this novel will be enjoyed by fans of historical crime, but I suspect that it might also be of interest to fans of such writers as Patrick O'Brian or Alexander Kent.