This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Debs Carr
A Treacherous Likeness is set in 1850. Charles Maddox, an investigator, is coping with his terminally ill uncle when he’s given a job, by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s only surviving, dislikeable son and his wife to trace papers for them thereby ensuring damage limitation against the dead poet’s already blemished reputation. Charles assumes a false name and rents a room from Claire Claremont, Mary Shelley’s step-sister and Lord Byron’s ex-mistress, a woman who has suffered deeply in her past and knows more about Shelley’s lifestyle than his son would like. Charles discovers that not only have they an ulterior motive for employing him, but also that he has personal reasons for becoming involved in this investigation. He discovers that his uncle, who is known for his meticulous record-keeping, has certain pages missing from his files.
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Charles delves deeper into Shelley's past through letters, diary entries and conversations, and it seems that the more he learns about this family the more there is to unravel. His discoveries make him question, among other things, if Mary Shelley really was the writer of her famous novel, Frankenstein, and he longs to find out exactly what really happened to Shelley’s first wife, and why so many of the women who loved the poet suffered so badly.
A Treacherous Likeness is book two in the Charles Maddox series and the follow-up book to, Tom-All-Alone’s. Although this is the first book I’ve read by Lynn Shepherd, I don’t think it was necessary to read the previous novel to enjoy this one. This evocative and beautifully researched book is based on fact and cleverly intersperses the well-researched fact with fiction, depicting the era through a haunting and clever plot. I found the fact that it was written in the third party a little hard going, but that is more of a personal preference and shouldn’t take away anyone’s inclination to read this book. I particularly liked the scenes in Charles’ home with Molly, the servant girl and was impressed with the obvious knowledge the author has about the poet and his relationships with those around him.
Lynn Shepherd’s Website