I read the first book in the Crowther & Westerman mystery series, Instruments of Darkness, about a year ago and really enjoyed it. Other books came along for me to read, and I didn’t have a chance to go back until recently when I greatly enjoyed book two, Anatomy of Murder. I wanted to share a bullet point review of this extremely interesting and well-written series. There are currently five books about Crowther & Westerman.
Harriet Westerman is the wife of a navy captain at sea and mistress of a country house. Having been to sea often with her husband before their children were born, she is never one to shy from adventure or speak her mind.
Gabriel Crowther is a trained doctor and anatomist. He lives a reclusive life from all, including his family, having given up his title years earlier. He has poor, but not rude, social graces and is especially awkward around women and children.
An unfamiliar dead man is found on Mrs. Westerman’s property, carrying a signet ring from the local lord’s family. Through various circumstances, Harriet calls on Gabriel Crowther to assist in discovering the identity of the man and how he came to be there.
Why I Like it
The first book is an excellent mystery with Mrs. Westerman and Dr. Crowther investigating the body found in the woods and a second story line taking place in London. It takes a while to realize the relationship between the two tales, and I always like a slow reveal. The early use of forensics, with no manuals for investigators to follow, so they make it up as they go along, is well done. Crowther knows the human body and dissection but is developing his procedures and protocols as he learns more about murder. I love that there are maps at the front of the book, which I am always looking for in my historical fiction, especially when the locations are given so specifically and have an important part in events. For those who don’t have a lot of historical reference of the time, it is easy to follow with commonly known events being mentioned throughout, as well as details of daily life.
By the second book, Crowther & Westerman are establishing a rhythm, dividing roles, each appreciating the other’s strengths. This time they are in London, where Harriet and her children are staying with friends to be closer to the hospital where her husband, suffering from a severe head wound that has greatly changed his behavior, is being treated.
I am looking forward to book three where we learn about Crowther’s family and his reasons for giving up his fortune.
Who Else Might Like It
Fans of forensic mysteries or history will enjoy learning more about early procedures and events. Although they focus on Crowther’s knowledge of human anatomy, the books are not gory, merely factual and descriptive. It’s more about the reaction of others to his knowledge of the inner workings of the body since so few people had any idea what went on under the skin.
I checked both of these books out from my local library. This review contains affiliate links and is in compliance with FTC guidelines.
Images courtesy of Gravetye Manor, West Hoathly, Sussex, U.K. which is how I image Mrs. Westerman’s country home.