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A Fatal Likeness

(Charles Maddox #3)

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  816 ratings  ·  212 reviews
A mystery that explores the dark lives and unexplained secrets of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his wife Mary, author of Frankenstein.

In the dying days of 1850 the young detective Charles Maddox takes on a new case. His client? The only surviving son of the long-dead poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his wife Mary, author of Frankenstein.

Charles soon finds himself being
Hardcover, 367 pages
Published August 20th 2013 by Delacorte Press (first published February 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.36  · 
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 ·  816 ratings  ·  212 reviews

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Feb 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I have never attempted to read this book, so I can't comment on whether it's good or bad, but I do think it's a shame that people are reading this, instead of something much more stimulating for grown-up minds. I really shouldn't be able to make comments like this without even attempting to know what I am talking about but it's not petty at all, because I say it isn't.

Of course the lack-of-hype for A Fatal Likeness, and the fact that I'd never heard of it, means it must be good, as over-hyped b
Dec 18, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In 1850, a young detective takes on a new case unlike anything seen before; Charles Maddox’s client is the surviving son of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley. Maddox has to track down some papers concerning the Shelleys that could be used for blackmail and ruin their literary legacy. This will take him into investigating the dark lives of not just Percy Bysshe Shelley but all the young Romantics and question the cause of death for Shelley’s first wife, Harriet.

This was a really difficult boo
Diane S ☔
Oct 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Love the atmosphere of this time period, the wonderful characters, slowness of the plot to develop and the richness of the details and the setting. This is the second book in this series featuring, Charles Maddox, and in this one he takes on the Shelley family and their scandal ridden past. A case that goes into the past of this famous family and into the past of his uncle.

Solid writing, just not sure I was wholly convinced by the plot, though it was certainly interesting following where the aut
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
There is no problem, however intractable, that cannot be resolved by the steady application of logic and observation

I love Netgalley, it allows me to choose books I would never otherwise have read. After requesting this title, I really thought I made a mistake. Whodunit's is not really my genre, I new nothing about the romantic poets, and I belatedly noticed that this was the second book in a series. Despite all of this I really enjoyed it.

I was interested in learning more about Percy Bysshe She
Paula Cappa
Apr 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Why is this book worth reading? Isn't that the point of all these book reviews? Here's a question I'd like to ask the author Lynn Shepherd. Why is this book worth writing? Truly, why would you write this story? To be honest, I liked this book and I did not like this book. While it's well written and well researched (Shepherd is a talented writer), the author has made some wild speculations about the Shelley family, Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The Shelleys (I've read numerous biographies) had ...more
After reading this, I feel really sorry for the Shelleys. They don't deserve this, not after so long, not when they can't defend themselves. I know this is fiction, but most of my acrimony comes from reading the author's notes at the end. It's the license Shepherd took with the "eloquent silences" in Mary Shelley's journal and justifying one step sister's jealousy of another as cause for believing that one of them is capable of murder that bothers me. Shepherd really believes that she didn't hav ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last year my hand was seized by an omniscient narrator, and she pulled me back into nineteenth century London and she showed me such dark and wonderful things. And now she has seized my hand again, and shown things that are even more extraordinary.

We arrived in a dark, cold London street, and straight away I saw a familiar figure. Charles Maddox, the detective who had been pulled into an investigation that had uncovered dark goings-on at Tom-all-Alone’s. He was a little older, and a little wise
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley-arc
There were many times during the first third that I thought I was going to abandon this book as the plot seemed to be stalled and I wasn't emotionally involved in the characters. What kept me going was a fascination with the lines between the author and protagonist's points of view and the ethics of using real people as characters in fiction.

Charles Maddox, our main character, remains a cypher for me. Perhaps the first book he appears in fixes this, but I would not be able to tell you about his
Apr 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crap, arc
A Fatal Likeness
By Lynn Shepherd
Summery courtesy of
A mystery that explores the dark lives and unexplained secrets of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his wife Mary, author of Frankenstein.

In the dying days of 1850 the young detective Charles Maddox takes on a new case. His client? The only surviving son of the long-dead poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his wife Mary, author of Frankenstein.

Charles soon finds himself being drawn into the bitter battle being waged over the poet’s lit
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, real-books
28 AUG 2020 - I greatly this enjoyed next adventure of Charles Maddox. He and I last met and walked the streets of London in The Solitary House. I like this author's writing style and her ability to transport me from my armchair into the pages and participate in the adventure. Thank you, Ms Shepherd. ...more
It took me a while to finally review this book because it was a bizarre read for me. I had high hopes for this book but I gave it one star for the sole reason that I didn’t like it.

I am not a connoisseur of the Romantics. Of course I know who Mary Shelleyis, always wanted to read Frankenstein Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (and will read it next month). Haven’t read her husband’s work (Percy Bysshe Shelley), but know of his existence. But I wasn’t aware of the mystery surrounding their lives.

I requested this book on NetGa
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, mystery
I read an advance copy of this novel received through LibraryThing's Early Reviews program. I had originally signed up to receive a copy because I had just read Frankenstein for the first time a few months ago, and I was intrigued by the idea of reading a mystery spun around the author and her husband. The copy of Frankenstein that I read contained biographical information about the pair, but nothing that really addressed anything personal about who they were.

I also read Lynn Shepherd's book The
Alana White
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of literary historical fiction.
1850/1816 London. One man, four women. The man is Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The adolescent women who protect him at all costs are the interrelated Fanny Godwin Imlay; Shelley’s first wife, Harriet Westbrook; his second wife, Mary Godwin Shelley; and Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont. Lord Byron is here, too, as the natural father of Claire Clairmont’s baby.

The fictional protagonist, Charles Maddox, carries the weight of this disquieting tale. Summoned by Shelley’s son in the fall of
Suzie Grogan
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The research and imagination that has gone into this book takes it well beyond the Victorian crime genre that it might otherwise be slotted into. As it examines a mystery at the heart of the life of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley much of the 'action' takes place much earlier in the 19th century. Unlike the book it succeeds, Tom All Alone's, Charles Maddox Junior does not drive the story as viewpoint switches between characters via letters, notes and journal entries, which reveal his great uncle - ...more
Nicole Soutar
Oct 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
I forced myself to finish it, I wanted to stop half way. Very confusing story, and I think unless you have some background knowledge of Mary and Percy Shelly (which I did not) it is hard to follow. Not my kind of book, though I normally enjoy historical fiction.
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, great fact(?)fiction story. Loved it.
Shaz Goodwin
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed Tom-All-Alone’s in March and having enjoyed Charles Maddox’ investigations in London 1850’s, when Corsair offered a proof copy of A Treacherous Likeness, I was eager to find out where his investigations would take us this time. Added to that …Mary Wollestonecraft Shelly, Percy Florence Shelley, Mary Wollestonecraft Godwin and William Godwin are interred in St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth (and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s heart is said to be buried there too). The Shelley’s left behind their ...more
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-crime
Our hero Charles Maddox is back, and once again embroiled in some very unsavoury matters. This time he is dragged into the orbit of Mary Shelley. It is not a comfortable place to be. Mary's only surviving son, called Percy after his father, calls upon Maddox's professional services. Maddox pays a visit to the Shelley residence; he meets a man ruled by his wife, a shrine to the Dear Departed Percy Bysshe Shelley, and a case requiring him to act as spy. Someone has some papers concerning the late ...more
Roman Clodia
Jun 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book is written in lovely prose - but I hate its depiction of Mary Shelley which is vicious, malicious and would be positively libellous if written about someone alive today. Shepherd has read the standard biographies, the letters, the journals - and then has chosen to ignore them in creating a monstrous Mary Shelley.

Unlike Shepherd's last two books, this doesn't make an intervention into a classic novel, instead it takes on the Shelley `circle' - Shelley, Byron, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairm
Janette Fleming
In the dying days of 1850 the young detective Charles Maddox takes on a new case. His client? The only surviving son of the long-dead poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his wife Mary, author of Frankenstein.
Charles soon finds himself being drawn into the bitter battle being waged over the poet's literary legacy, but then he makes a chance discovery that raises new doubts about the death of Shelley's first wife, Harriet, and he starts to question whether she did indeed kill herself, or whether what r
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Included at the end of A Fatal Likeness is an author's note that goes into detail about the research and idea for the book. I must say, I appreciate the conception, along with the research and development. The perspective is a visionary undertaking. Undoubtedly, the constructing of this piece was no easy task!

However, simply compiling information and arranging neat pieces with good editing does not make a story great. In my opinion, A Fatal Likeness lacks the electricity it truly needs to jolt
I wish the author had given us more of a refresher on the back story of Charles Maddox and his Uncle because though I can remember the mystery and the ending of The Solitary House I don't remember that much about the two of them or how Charles sustained the injury that is referred to at the beginning of this story. I wanted to reread 'The Solitary House' right before picking up 'A Fatal Likeness' but unfortunately, ran out of time to do so.

This most recent installment of Charles Maddox's investi
Elliot A
This was an intense story. I finished it two days ago and I still cannot find the words to write a review that is void of any spoilers and unintentional hints to the plot.

The characters are richly portrayed with the sort of depth that has the reader wonder at their intentions and waver between trust and mistrust. The main character or recurring character of Charles Maddox takes an unusual back seat in this investigation as we find out more about his uncle.

The plot is an elaborate and drama induc
Riley Dawson Hushak
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm still not sure why I kept reading this book. The characters were silly caricatures of real people, the plot was totally convoluted and I didn't feel any of the suspense I was supposed to, and I just did NOT like the writing style. This gets a full two stars because I somehow still managed to read it all, maybe because as a lit major I was morbidly curious about what Shepherd would have to say about the Shelleys.

What bothered me the most about this book is that I really HATED the constant asi
Nov 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
Although I liked the first book, this was a painful, plodding mystery that unfolds through an endless series of decades-old letters that you are forced to read. Ugh.
Jan 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Couldn't get into the story. ...more
Feb 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
didn't hold my interest. ...more
Tina Hileman
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a darkly told tale of Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wives (including Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein), his children and his lovers. I wasn't really interested in Percy Bysshe Shelley when I purchased this novel, but found that I did not want to put it down once started. ...more
‘Thoughts of the past pursue me like a treacherous likeness of myself…’

Once again the reader is invited by the all-knowing, all-seeing narrator to journey back with them and revisit the past so vividly reawakened by this author. We join with Charles Maddox again, this time late in 1850, as he investigates a new case. Charles is enlisted by Sir Percy and Lady Shelley to look into matters surrounding none other than Percy Bysshe Shelley, the romantic poet, and his wife Mary, writer of Frankenstein
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!

Okay, first of all I have a deep, dark, dirty secret that I must admit: I've been putting off writing this review for almost a month now. I know, I know – believe me, I feel the shame. It's not like I hated the book. In fact, the plot was rather interesting, so much that I pushed myself to finish reading the book. However, there are a few aspects of the book that were quite unappealing. I think this is the reason why I've been
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Lynn Shepherd studied English at Oxford in the 1980s, and got a doctorate degree there in 2006. She always wanted to be a writer and in 2000 she went freelance to see if it was possible to make her dream into reality. Ten years later her dream finally comes true. Murder at Mansfield Park was her first novel.

She describes her genre as 'literary mystery', and in 2012 she since published Tom All-Alo

Other books in the series

Charles Maddox (4 books)
  • Murder at Mansfield Park
  • The Solitary House (Charles Maddox #1)
  • The Pierced Heart (Charles Maddox #3)

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