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A Fatal Likeness: A Novel
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Random House Publishing Group 2013
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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...
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Street Date:
08/20/2013
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780345538673
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APA Citation (style guide)

Lynn Shepherd. (2013). A Fatal Likeness: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Lynn Shepherd. 2013. A Fatal Likeness: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Lynn Shepherd, A Fatal Likeness: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group, 2013.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Lynn Shepherd. A Fatal Likeness: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group, 2013.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        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.

      • name: Lynn Shepherd
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A Fatal Likeness
fullDescription
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...
seriesId
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times bestselling author Tasha Alexander
      • content:

        "[Lynn Shepherd] takes the familiar story of the Shelley family and fills in the holes in the historical record by turning it into a clever, imaginative and literate mystery."--Kirkus Reviews "Unforgettably chilling, A Fatal Likeness will haunt you long after you finish the last page."

      • premium: False
      • source: Bloomberg
      • content: "Maddox's brooding character and Shepherd's own voice . . . are both enthralling."--Booklist "Charged with passion, betrayals and conspiracies, [A Fatal Likeness] more than restores Shelley's darker side, yet it is Mary you won't be able to forget."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly (starred review)
      • content: "Shepherd shines again in this superb Victorian thriller. . . . The novel works equally as a family story, a blend of horror and mystery, and a plausible hypothesis about why so many women and children associated with Shelley died mysterious deaths."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Spectator
      • content: "As a piece of literary detective work, it's stimulating and hugely fun--even brilliant."
      • premium: False
      • source: Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist
      • content: "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 "Polished, smart, and fun, A Fatal Likeness is a gothic mystery that goes down swift and smooth, though there's also the satisfyingly imaginative 'what if?' speculation for fans of the sexiest Romantics."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from June 17, 2013
        Shepherd shines again in this superb Victorian thriller, a follow-up to 2012’s The Solitary House. A note from Sir Percy Shelley, son of the late Romantic poet, causes elderly Charles Maddox to have a fit of apoplexy. In the circumstances, Maddox’s great-nephew and namesake, who’s a private detective, responds to Sir Percy instead. The Shelley family hires the younger Maddox to prevent the poet’s former lover, Claire Clairmont, from tarnishing his posthumous reputation. When Charles discovers that his great-uncle worked for the family more than 30 years before, on tasks now excised from his relative’s meticulous case files, his quest takes on a personal urgency. Juxtaposing omniscient narration with discovered “documents,” the story moves between 1850 London and the tortured ménage that created Frankenstein in 1818 Italy. The novel works equally as a family story, a blend of horror and mystery, and as a plausible hypothesis about why so many women and children associated with Shelley died mysterious deaths. Agent: Ben Mason, Fox Mason.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from June 1, 2013
        A detective in Victorian England takes a case involving several renowned and infamous literary figures. Charles Maddox has taken over the detective agency once run by his famous great-uncle, who now suffers from age-related mental illnesses. Charles is hired by the son of the famous poet Percy Bysshe Shelley to find and acquire some family papers they believe to be in the possession of Claire Clairmont, stepsister to Mary Godwin Shelley. To his surprise, Charles discovers that his great-uncle had once worked for the Shelley family, though the usual meticulous notes he took are nowhere to be found. Charles finds a way to get into Claire's house, but when she catches him reading her papers, she tells a totally different story than the one he had from Percy, his wife and Mary Shelley. Like his great-uncle before him, Charles becomes ensnared in the family's horrifying story. But finding the truth proves to be elusive. Did Shelley cause the death of his first wife and some of his children, or was it Mary? Both she and Claire, who was also mistress to Lord Byron, were madly in love with the poet, and it seems that Mary would do almost anything to keep him by her side. When Charles does find his uncle's papers, they provide answers and raise even more questions about the tragic history of the haunted poet. Lynn (The Solitary House, 2012, etc.) takes the familiar story of the Shelley family and fills in the holes in the historical record by turning it into a clever, imaginative and literate mystery.

        COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        July 1, 2013
        Shepherd specializes in historical mysteries, starting with Murder at Mansfield Park (2010). Her latest continues the career of Charles Maddox, first seen in Shepherd's take on Bleak House, called The Solitary House (2012). Maddox is a mid-nineteenth-century private detective, formerly an officer with London's Metropolitan Police but fired for insubordination. Now he scratches out a living solving mysteries for clients; he used to be aided by his uncle, a legendary thief-taker, but a stroke has rendered him only intermittingly brilliant. Maddox's brooding character and Shepherd's own voice, which uses the present tense in a way that makes it seem as if we are spying on Maddox's movements, are both enthralling. This mystery centers on papers relating to what happened between Byron, Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin during the summer of 1816 in Switzerland (besides the contest that led to the writing of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein). Shelley's son wants the papers recovered; we soon learn he's playing a double game. The plot's revelations sometimes seem as if only a Shelley scholar can understand them, but, overall, this is a solid atmospheric read, sure to be of interest to English majors.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

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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...
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