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A Fatal Likeness    by Lynn Shepherd order for
Fatal Likeness
by Lynn Shepherd
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Lynn Shepherd visits another set of Victorian literary luminaries when she sends detective Charles Maddox out to the assist the Shelley household in assessing if a rare cache of papers really belonged to the legendary Percy Bysshe Shelly.

The deceased poet's son and Shelley's widow, Mary, are concerned that the papers may not be authentic. It is up to Maddox to verify the documents one way or another. The investigation encompasses other members of the family, including Claire Clairmont, Mary Shelley's stepsister. The tumultuous relationship and dark history between these two women is as much a factor in the case as is the shadow of the eccentric, deceased poet who apparently never was able to free himself from the private demons that shared his troubled days.

We are told quite early on in the story that, 'There are aspects of Percy Bysshe Shelley's life which are far less palatable in 1850 than they would have been in the rather more broad-minded first quarter of the nineteenth century. Indeed, one would be hard put to come up with two notions more utterly repugnant to the strait-laced Victorian bourgeois than Atheism and Free Love.'

As he digs deeper into Shelley's past, Maddox unearths some disturbing information that is quite unsettling. The situation becomes even more dire when evidence of foul play emerges, casting a new light on one of the age's most intriguing literary mysteries. With a few gothic elements added for flavor, Shepherd delves into what really unfolded in Percy Bysshe Shelley's close circle of friends and family and what really happened to the poet!

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