‘The Silversmith’s Wife’, set in 18th century London, starts off quickly, with the murder of silversmith Pierre Renard. The reader soon discovers that Renard had many enemies, including in his own home. As the story moves along more of his character, and the secrets of those around him, are revealed. The story never really builds tension, as there isn’t much effort on the part of any of the characters to discover who the murderer is. I don’t read crime novels often, but I found it to be a decent enough read.

Image from: goodreads.com

There is little effort made by anyone in the book to discover who the murderer is. Only one character makes an attempt, and it is half-hearted and quickly abandoned. I don’t read a lot of crime, but this initially confused me, as it went counter to my expectations. Over the course of the book, it becomes clear many people had opportunity and reason, but it doesn’t really go any further than that in suggesting a killer. By the end of course, you figure it out, but there wasn’t much tension or suspense. If no one in the book cares who killed him, why should the reader? I think the book is probably better enjoyed if you think of it as focusing on Pierre Renard’s wife, and how she has to deal with his death.

I didn’t really care for any of the characters in the book. For the first half of the book, I sympathized more with Pierre Renard than his wife, Mary. The book dances around why she hates him so much for the first half, and I found myself feeling more sorry for Pierre than her. About halfway through though the reasons for her hatred become more clear, and I was able to feel sorry for her more and enjoy the book a bit more. Aside from that though, most of the other characters are all very bitter and unkind to the people around them, so I found it hard to care about them. All of these other characters have buried secrets though, which are slowly revealed over the course of the book.

I’ve talked a lot about negatives, so now some positives. The descriptions of the characters and the world are good. Tobin sketches a clear image of her characters, and gives a sense of their personality, with few words. I thought the description of Maynard’s wife was particularly good, considering you see her just once for half a paragraph. As I mentioned before, most of the characters aren’t very likable, but some of them did eventually grow on me. The culprit also isn’t someone you initially suspect, though as you get further into the book and read more of Pierre’s diary, it starts to become clear.

All in all, I’m not entirely sure what to think of this book. It wasn’t what I was expecting in a crime novel, which I think was most of my problem with it. The descriptions were good though, and if you like a cast of characters with lots of secrets, you could enjoy this book.