Book Review Club: Lady Darby #Mystery Series by @AnnaLeeHuber

For this month’s Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club, I’m doing short reviews of a mystery series I’ve been enjoying this year featuring a female sleuths: Lady Darby.

The Anatomists's Wife coverThe Anatomist’s Wife
by Anna Lee Huber
Lady Darby Mystery Series, Book 1
Historical Mystery
Scotland, 1830

Keira, Lady Darby, is the widow of a notorious anatomist who married her because of her artistic talent and then forced her to illustrate his anatomy book by observing autopsies. There was a scandal after his death and her part became public knowledge. She has been hiding out at her sister and brother-in-law’s estate in Scotland, until her sister decides to throw a house party and all the old pain comes back. The other guests treat her with disdain and mutter about her behind her back. Then one of the female guests is murdered in a brutal fashion, and Keira is asked to help Sebastian Gage, who has some experience as an inquiry agent. Her anatomy training comes in handy, but she has a hard time dealing emotionally. Very engaging main character and excellent mystery.
Mortal Arts cover
Mortal Arts

by Anna Lee Huber
Lady Darby Mystery Series, Book 2
Historical Mystery
Scotland, 1830
Audiobook narrated by Heather Wilds

Mortal Arts is one of the most emotional mysteries I’ve ever read. In this book, Keira (Lady Darby) learns that a childhood friend who she thought had died was instead committed to an insane asylum nine years ago. Now he is out, but kept locked up at the family castle. Will may be Lord Dalmay, but is he stable enough to be around people? After serving in the military during the Napoleonic Wars, he came home with a severe case of PTSD, which was not understood at the time. Like Keira, he’s an artist who acted as her drawing master when she was a teen. She saw his troubled drawings then and sympathizes, esp. since her evil former husband had threatened her with a similar fate if she didn’t do what he wanted. Her protectiveness of Will interferes with her burgeoning relationship with Sebastian Gage, who shows up at Dalmay House also. Then a young local woman disappears. The specter of the asylum hangs over everything in this terrific mystery.

Heather Wilds’s narration is stellar. I especially love listening to the Scottish accents.

A Grave MatterA Grave Matter
by Anna Lee Huber
Lady Darby Mystery Series, Book 3
Historical Mystery
Scotland, 1831
Audiobook narrated by Heather Wilds

The story opens on New Year’s Eve, 1830, at a Hogmanay ball in the Scottish border country. Keira, Lady Darby, and her brother Trevor are in attendance at the home of their aunt and uncle. All is in preparation for the First Footing, in which a carefully chosen member of the household (a dark-haired man) is set to be the first person to cross the threshold after Midnight. (In Scottish tradition, the hair color of the first footer indicates whether good or bad luck will prevail in the coming year. A fair-haired man, or heaven forfend, a woman arriving first is Bad Luck.) Things go awry when a young red-headed man rushes into the hall to report a murder at nearby Dryburgh Abbey. A caretaker was shot to death when he disturbed grave robbers digging up the bones of the late Lord Buchan.

At her uncle’s bequest, Keira reluctantly writes to Sebastian Gage to ask him to investigate. Once again, they are thrown together and stumble into a puzzling conspiracy to steal and then ransom the bones of prominent Scotsmen. Grave robbing was fairly common in this era, though typically only recently buried graves were exhumed so the corpses could be sold to anatomists. Why someone would be stealing skeletons is a real puzzlement.

Keira and Gage’s romance heats up again, and his presence helps her to find her muse and start painting again, after weeks of struggling to put paint to canvas. Another good read/listen, though not as engrossing as the first two books.

(Dear FCC, I purchased all three of these books with my own money.)

Note: Trip to Harry Potter World was postponed, so I’ll be here to blog hop after all.

Linda

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11 thoughts on “Book Review Club: Lady Darby #Mystery Series by @AnnaLeeHuber

  1. How funny! I was just reading about Hogmanay yesterday when researching other countries’ new year traditions. These books have such interesting premises. I think I’ll follow your lead and try the audio version. There’s something about accents and audio books. 🙂 Thank you for reviewing. I hope you’re having a fun Harry Potter day!

    • Alas, we postponed the trip to HP World. Everything is still so crowded this week.

      I think audiobooks are always better with accents!

    • I’m really enjoying the Scottish setting, though I think some of the later books move south into England. So many of the historical mysteries are set in London, so it’s nice to have a different setting.

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