A Treacherous Likeness by Lynn Shepherd is a historical novel, but it is also a mystery, a thriller, a crime novel – there is so much inside its pages. It picks up where Shepherd’s previous novel Tom-All-Alone’s left off, with Victorian detective Charles Maddox finding a card left for him bearing the name ‘Shelley’ – and his great uncle in some sort of catatonic state, presumably as a result of seeing the card.
Charles is plunged into the Shelleys’ family history, investigating what happened between the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary (still alive during the novel, and a very mysterious character), as well as Mary’s stepsister Claire Clairmont, who also makes an appearance in the novel. Lovers of the Romantic poets will find this book very interesting, as well as anyone who likes crime and mystery fiction, as well as historical fiction. For it is fiction. Everything in the novel is speculation about what happened in real life, and is only one version of the truth.
A Treacherous Likeness is published in the UK by Corsair, an imprint of Constable & Robinson. My copy was kindly provided by the publisher for review.