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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Review - An Artless Demise

Lady Darby returns to London with her new husband, Sebastian Gage, but newlywed bliss won't last for long when her past comes back to haunt her in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.  I have reviewed the six prior books in this series (click here) and consider myself a fan of the this historical mystery series.  Check out what I thought of the seventh addition to the Lady Darby series.

Author: Anna Lee Huber

Copyright: April 2019 (Berkley) 380 pgs

Series: 7th in Lady Darby Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild with non-gruesome references to murders, dark subject matter

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Mystery

Main Characters: Lady Kiera Darby, an accomplished artist, widow now re-married, and social outcast

Setting: 1831, London

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the cover blurb: "November 1831. After fleeing London in infamy more than two years prior, Lady Kiera Darby's return to the city is anything but mundane, though not for the reasons she expected. A gang of body snatchers is arrested on suspicion of imitating the notorious misdeeds of Edinburgh criminals, Burke and Hare--killing people from the streets and selling their bodies to medical schools. Then Kiera's past--a past she thought she'd finally made peace with--rises up to haunt her. 

All of London is horrified by the evidence that "burkers" are, indeed, at work in their city. The terrified populace hovers on a knife's edge, ready to take their enmity out on any likely suspect. And when Kiera receives a letter of blackmail, threatening to divulge details about her late anatomist husband's involvement with the body snatchers and wrongfully implicate her, she begins to apprehend just how precarious her situation is. Not only for herself, but also her new husband and investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, and their unborn child. 

Meanwhile, the young scion of a noble family has been found murdered a block from his home, and the man's family wants Kiera and Gage to investigate. Is it a failed attempt by the London burkers, having left the body behind, or the crime of someone much closer to home? Someone who stalks the privileged, using the uproar over the burkers to cover his own dark deeds?"

Lady Darby comes up against her nightmarish past and must fight emotionally and mentally to keep her new life together.  Her new husband Sebastian Gage has been understanding and sympathetic, but gets more of a taste of what she faced before.  Even Lord Gage, Sebastian's father, who has never accepted Kiera, gets a glimpse of what her life was like with her deceased husband and the public hatred she withstood.  

The setting of London has been covered by scores of books and authors and yet Ms. Huber weaves historical facts seamlessly to create a layered and atmospheric large city.  The main plot of handling two investigations, the "burkers" trial with an unidentified young "Italian Boy" victim they are trying to id, and the case of a young heir, a truly black-hearted individual, whose murder was loosely made to look like a "Burking" are enough to keep the story hopping.  But the added black mailing and Gage's right-hand-man Anderly having a personal stake in identifying the young victim make the story emotionally layered and rich.  It is an absorbing story that draws you in and is hard to put down.

The climax is to prevent another wealthy heir's death as the city is on tender hooks after the "burkers" trial and impending public execution.  It has exciting elements of a ticking clock to save a life with some harrowing elements.  Wonderful climax.  The wrap-up gives a hint of Lord Gage's tendency to "arrange" his family's lives to suit himself and paves the way for the next story.

It is hard to believe this is the seventh book and if anything the series just keeps getting better and better.  I love how history is made fascinating and alive through this series. The themes of ethnic prejudices and the poor becoming political pawns shows how "the more things change, the more they stay the same."  The story was immersive and an experience I highly recommend.

Rating: Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend. 

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