Imogen Robertson and the Genre Canard

It’s sort of over to debate the merits of continuing to distinguish between genre fiction and literary fiction. Ursula K. LeGuin and Margaret Atwood were the ones who pointed it out to me first, and of course John Banville/Benjamin Black has hashed that out again more recently.

Nonetheless, I think it’s worth pointing out Imogen Robertson. Yes, there’s a murder involved in her stories, and an eccentric investigator and an intrepid lady. But Robertson doesn’t allow those elements to be a crutch. The characters are still finely drawn, the historical background carefully researched and annotated.

And frankly, the historical setting makes all of it quite plausible. In the late 18th century, there were in fact quite a large number of eccentric natural philosophers and intrepid ladies struggling against the confines of their societal expectations. Robertson’s fiction may involve murder and intrigue, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you pigeonhole and ignore her.

Her latest, Island of Bones, should be available any day now. If you haven’t read the first two — Instruments of Darkness and Anatomy of Murder — start now and you’ll be able to sink into all three in a row.

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