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A Fatal Likeness

Cover of A Fatal Likeness

A Fatal Likeness

Charles Maddox Series, Book 3
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWSWith The Solitary House, award-winning author Lynn Shepherd introduced readers to Charles Maddox, a brilliant private detective plying his trade...More
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWSWith The Solitary House, award-winning author Lynn Shepherd introduced readers to Charles Maddox, a brilliant private detective plying his trade...More
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  • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS

    With The Solitary House, award-winning author Lynn Shepherd introduced readers to Charles Maddox, a brilliant private detective plying his trade on the gaslit streets of Dickensian London. Now, in this mesmerizing new novel of historical suspense, a mystery strikes disturbingly close to home--and draws Maddox into a world of literary legends, tormented souls, and a legacy of terrible secrets.

    When his great-uncle, the master detective who schooled him in the science of "thief taking," is mysteriously stricken, Charles Maddox fears that the old man's breakdown may be directly related to the latest case he's been asked to undertake. Summoned to the home of a stuffy nobleman and his imperious wife, Charles finds his investigative services have been engaged by no less than the son of celebrated poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his famed widow, Mary, author of the gothic classic Frankenstein. Approached by a stranger offering to sell a cache of rare papers allegedly belonging to the legendary late poet, the Shelley family seeks Maddox's aid in discovering whether the precious documents are authentic or merely the work of an opportunistic charlatan.

    But the true identity of his quarry is only the first of many surprises lying in wait for the detective. Hardly a conniving criminal, Claire Clairmont is in fact the stepsister of Mary Shelley, and their tortured history of jealousy, obsession, and dark deceit looms large over the affair Maddox must untangle. So, too, does the shadow of the brilliant, eccentric Percy Shelley, who found no rest from the private demons that pursued him. With each new detail unearthed, the investigation grows ever more disturbing. And when shocking evidence of foul play comes to light, Maddox's chilling hunt for the truth leads him into the blackest reaches of the soul.

    Steeped in finely wrought Victorian atmosphere, and rife with eye-opening historical revelations, A Fatal Likeness carries the reader ever deeper into a darkly magnetic tale of love and madness as utterly harrowing and heartbreaking as it is undeniably human.

    This eBook edition includes the complete text of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a classic novel that's referenced in A Fatal Likeness!

    Praise for Lynn Shepherd and A Fatal Likeness

    "As a piece of literary detective work, it's stimulating and hugely fun--even brilliant."--The Spectator

    "A potent mixture of passion, intrigue, perversion, and betrayal, exploring the lives of Shelley, Byron, and their Romantic intimates through a Gothic lens."--Lyndsay Faye, author of The Gods of Gotham

    "A wonderfully ingenious novel: perceptive, gripping, and fascinating."--Miranda Seymour, author of Mary Shelley

    "Shepherd sets a new standard of brilliance in historical fiction with A Fatal Likeness. Her summoning of dead souls--Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and their most intimate circle--is so psychologically penetrating, it feels like truth. Exquisitely rendered in Shepherd's pitch-perfect prose, this tale will haunt the reader long after its close."--Stephanie Barron, author of Jane and the Canterbury Tale

    "A literary thriller that weaves back and forth in time and gives some plausible answers to certain genuine biographical mysteries . . . [The novel's] conclusion has haunted me ever since I finished the book. But if you want to know what it is, you'll have to read it yourself."--The Independent

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    The West Wind

    We began before thick in autumn fog; we open now in the fury of a west and winter wind. Above us high loose clouds drive across a steep grey sky, and beneath our feet the dead leaves are driven before the unseen air like ghosts from an enchanter. Yellow and black and pale and hectic red, they swirl in dry squalls into narrow corners and lift in sudden gusts from the muddy gutters. It's no weather for walking and as yet only the muffin-seller is braving the bluster, bent half double against the freezing wind and struggling to keep both his hat on and his basket covered. No weather for walking, and no weather for idle lingering either, so we will take shelter for a moment in a graceful Georgian doorway and survey this graceful Georgian street. To the south, the level leaden drab of the river; to the north the heave of early-morning traffic on the Strand. But here all is quiet, and the only other passer-by a large black cat making its way purposefully across the cobbles and down the area steps of the house opposite, a rat dangling from its mouth like a rakish moustache. Few lights burn yet in the upper storeys, even if the servants in the cellars have been up and busy these two hours and more. Though there is, it appears, one exception. In that same house opposite, there is one uncurtained casement high above the street, and if we move just a little we can see a figure standing at the window.

    It is a young man. His face pale, and his eyes deep-set and drawn. Or at least that is how it seems from here. Perhaps it is merely the reflection in the bluish glass, or perhaps he has been wakeful all night, and stands there now, prey to the same dark concerns. One thing is certain: We may be interested in him, but Charles Maddox does not even register our presence as he gazes down at the almost empty street, listening to the rattle of the windowpanes, which is the only sound to trouble the tall and silent house. He sighs, understanding the exact pitch and weft of that silence, and knowing that it signifies there has been no change. Two floors below, in a larger and more elegant room than his, by a fine marble mantelpiece and a fire kept always carefully tended, his great-uncle lies unmoving in the same cold repose that has afflicted him now for more than three weeks. He breathes still--lives still--but it is a chill and twilight life, from which there may be no returning.

    Charles turns back to the room. He has lived here more than a month now, and his attic space is finally taking the look of permanent occupation. Gone are the tea crates that brought his possessions half-way across town and up three flights of stairs, and in their place there's a line of new shelves all along one wall. His books are now arranged in rows, his collection in clusters, the latter accompanied by more or less neatly written labels: Ethnographical, Zoological, Historical, Mineralogical. The books, in the main, are scuffed with over-use; the objects, by contrast, have been positioned with care. The coins are laid in chronological order on a piece of new red velvet, and the shells and pieces of coral have been freed at last from the glass jar they've been stored in since Charles was still at school. And if you look a little closer, you'll see that this assortment of apparently unrelated items has not only been placed to best advantage, but as far as possible from floor level, though it's hard to tell whether this is to protect the objects from the cat, or the cat from his own curiosity. Thunder, incidentally, is far too busy at this precise moment, feasting on his prize rat, to be interested in Charles' curios, none of which is remotely palatable (though one or two of the...

About the Author-
  • Lynn Shepherd is the author of the award-winning Murder at Mansfield Park and The Solitary House. She studied English at Oxford and was a professional copywriter for more than a decade. She is currently at work on her next novel of historical suspense, Darkness Visible, which Delacorte will publish in 2014.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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