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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review - A Grave Matter

I have been a fan of this series since I reviewed the first book, The Anatomist's Wife (click here).  I have also reviewed #2 Mortal Arts (click here) and was honored to interview the author (click here.)  Now for the next book in this fascinating historical mystery.

Author: Anna Lee Huber

Copyright: July 2014 (Berkley) 432 pgs

Series: 3rd in Lady Darby Mystery series

Sensuality: mild kissing

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Mystery

Main Characters: Lady Kiera Darby, an accomplished artist,widow, and social outcast

Setting: 1830, Scotland

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

After the events in the previous book (Mortal Arts), Kiera returns to her childhood home to grieve the loss of her friend.  Her brother Trevor is the master of the home now and she enjoys her time with him.  But while most of Scotland is celebrating Hogmanay Ball (New Years) with lavish parties, a cemetery caretaker is murdered as theives rob a grave of a nobleman's bones for ransom.  Inquiry agent Sebastian Gage is called in and Kiery must face the complicated relationship between them while enraveling who has been ransoming nobleman's skeleton's around England.  But, then it becomes clear there may be an underlying reason why those particular noblemen's graves are targeted. Bonnie Brook, the leader of the largest Resurrectionists gang, demands that Kiera find his sister who was lured away by one of the men involved in the ransoming scheme...or else.

Lady Kiera Darby faces much of her inner demons in this addition to the series as her relationship with Gage becomes more emotionally vested.  The damage emotionally and psychologically from her deceased husband plagues her with certainty, fear, and doubt about Gage while they investigate.  Sebastian Gage, the son of a London investigator, is fighting his own battles, with his father arranging a marriage for him and his own self doubts while trying to catch the thieves who have bested him before.  Trevor, Kiera's brother, is a welcome new character who expresses the mental anguish her family experienced when they realized something was wrong with her marriage to Sir Anthony Darby.  Trevor is a devoted brother and struggles to help her find her way.  Mr. Stuart, the Frenchman in demand at parties around England had far more to him than you initially think.  Even Bonnie Brook has a few surprises.

Dryburgh Abbey ruins are a great and eerie setting for the New Year's grave robbing and murder.  The book continues from there with a trip to Edinburgh and then back to the English/Scottish border.  The basic plot idea is pretty simple in that there is somebody robbing nobleman's graves of their bones, which the prevalent thinking was the person's soul was then put in jeopardy.    The pacing moved along steadily between the murder case and the tensions between Kiera and Gage, although their relationship comprises more of the story than in the prior two novels.

The climax was built up to and delivers good tension that is logical when chasing a paid ransom, what happens at the end of the line!  The wrap-up left me wanting more.

This novel provides a bridge from Kiera helping with investigations because it directly impacts her, to her wanting to sleuth.  I like how she is included in the investigation without constant censuring or pestering about the danger.  I enjoy historical mysteries and this is one of my favorite series. 

Ratings: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

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