Book Review: A Shadowed Fate by Marty Ambrose

A Shadowed Fate
A Claire Clairmont Historical Mystery
Marty Ambrose
Severn House, March 2020
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8992-8

For all the accolades presented to this series of books by other reviewers, I’m afraid I got a different impression. Perhaps if I’d started with the first of the series it would be different, but in A Shadowed Fate, instead of connecting with the characters (in this case the real-life mistress and mother of Lord Byron’s child, Claire Clairmont) and what should have been the mystery, the reader is told what has happened with Claire and Lord Byron up until her age of 70+. At that point we learn someone has broken in to her home and robbed Claire of a valuable painting, the sale of which she had been depending on to keep her and a couple of dependents from abject poverty. She managed to save some papers, written by Byron, that indicate their daughter, whom Claire thought died of typhoid at a very young age, might have lived. And so a search is on. Byron is long dead by this time, although he’s still a central character, detailed in a series of flashbacks taking place fifty years in  the past.

Trelawny, a friend of Byron’s who delivered the papers, accompanies Claire, her niece and her niece’s young daughter, on a trip across Italy to Ravenna, in a quest to discover the truth about the missing child.

The journey reads much like a travelogue. There’s not a lot of mystery, never really any tension,  and to me, the dialogue and characters seemed a bit flat, especially as the question of the child’s life or death is not answered. For that, you’ll have to read the next book in the series.

Nicely written, it’s a story I’m quite sure will appeal to fans of Lord Byron’s poetry.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, August 2020.
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel