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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Review - As Death Draws Near

I have been slower in my reading than usual, so I am late in finishing and posting this review. My apologies. 

This is another series that I have followed since the very first book:  The Anatomist's Wife (click here) .  I have also reviewed #2 Mortal Arts (click here) , #3 A Grave Matter (click here), #4 A Study in Death (click here), and was honored to interview the author (click here), and have a guest post (click here).  Now for the next book in this riveting historical mystery series. 

Author:  Anna Lee Huber

Copyright: July 2016 (Berkley) 352 pgs

Series: 5th in Lady Darby Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre:  Amateur Sleuth

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

Setting: 1831 Rathfarnham Ireland amidst tensions between Catholics and Protestants

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

July 1831. In the midst of their idyllic honeymoon in England’s Lake District, Kiera and Gage’s seclusion is soon interrupted by a missive from her new father-in-law. A deadly incident involving a distant relative of the Duke of Wellington has taken place at an abbey south of Dublin, Ireland, and he insists that Kiera and Gage look into the matter.

Intent on discovering what kind of monster could murder a woman of the cloth, the couple travel to Rathfarnham Abbey school. Soon a second nun is slain in broad daylight near a classroom full of young girls. With the sinful killer growing bolder, the mother superior would like to send the students home, but the growing civil unrest in Ireland would make the journey treacherous.

Before long, Kiera starts to suspect that some of the girls may be hiding a sinister secret. With the killer poised to strike yet again, Kiera and Gage must make haste and unmask the fiend, before their matrimonial bliss comes to an untimely end.

Lady Kiera Darby may have changed her marital status, but she still has baggage to work through. Some of that comes up in the course of this story.  Sebastian Gage struggles with keeping Kiera safe and yet assisting with this inquiry since they are surrounded by hostility on many fronts. Bree, Kiera's personal maid is Catholic and Irish and seems to be facing her own ghosts in town.  Anderley, Gage's rough spoken valet is a key player as well.  Mother Mary Fidelis of the Abbey proves to be a sage and gentle woman.

The shadowy Rathfarnham Abbey provides some gothic touches combined with Ireland's volatile religious-political environment creates a stormy and moody setting.  This takes place at the beginning of Ireland's Tithe War (1830 and 1836) that saw flairs of brutal violence in response to farmer's having a mandatory "tithe" to the state Protestant church for its upkeep irregardless of many being Catholic.  

The plot is, as always, based in history and plausible.  Thus adding to the tension in this case.  The pacing had its slower moments, but like Agatha Christie, these scenes have relevant clues.  The climax and killer reveal is handled deftly and provides chills.  The wrap-up has touching and bittersweet intermingled.  

I liked this outing as much for Kiera facing her fears in marriage as the hunt to unveil who murdered a nun.  Kiera continues to be a stellar character.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.

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As a special treat, and since the pumpkin spice craze is starting up...this recipe is for you!

Swirls of chocolate make these soft Pumpkin Nutella Muffins a delicious way to start out any fall day. 
They disappear every time we make…


1 cup Pumpkin puree
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Nutella spread
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 1/4 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Oil
1 cup Milk


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick baking spray.

Add the pumpkin, eggs, oil, and sugar to a large bowl and mix together.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the pumpkin mixture until everything is mixed in. Spoon the muffin batter into 18 muffin cavities.

Place the Nutella in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 20-30 seconds. Stir until creamy. Drop the warm Nutella in the center of each muffin. Use a toothpick to swirl the chocolate gently on top.

Bake the muffins for 20-22 minutes. Remove and cool in the pan for 2 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a sealed container.

Recipe from The BruCrew Life Blog

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