A Fatal Likeness: A Novel – Lynn Shephard

fatal likenessThe aging Charles Maddox, once a renowned detective, still breathes, still lives, but has left all awareness behind, perhaps never to regain it, and the younger Charles Maddox has taken up residence in the house to be near his uncle.  A gentleman’s calling card was left for the elder Maddox, who of course, cannot reply. Young Charles decides to follow up, his curiosity piqued since the card belongs to Sir Percy Shelley, son of the famous poet. Sir Percy and his wife want Charles to investigate the possible use of some letters or papers to blackmail Mary Shelley. As Charles peels away layers of deception, the complicated life of Mary Shelley, her husband Percy, and her step-sister Claire Clairmont, begins to be revealed.  And Uncle Charles seems to have been involved.  Now if Charles can only find his great-uncle’s missing records concerning the case . . .

There have been numerous biographies written about the Shelleys, but there are long periods when nothing is known, no letters survive, no mention in memoirs. Lynn Shepherd weaves a believable tale that fills the gaps in the known history of this unusual trio and seeks to explain some of their mysteries. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy, as befits a story about the author of Frankenstein, filled with truths and lies twisted together, hard to separate.  It is told in the first person, with the narrator looking at the action and occasionally making comments.  I like this unusual style very much.  I feel as if I’m standing at the edge of a scene, watching the drama unfold.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

eGalley review    Publication date 8.20.13

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