An Artless Demise (A Lady Darby Mystery)
7th in Series
Setting – England
Berkley (April 2, 2019)
Paperback: 384 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07FC7Y6GT
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 Kiera Darby just can’t escape the taint her late husband put upon her. The latest crime wave involves a group killing people and selling the bodies to medical schools and anatomists like Lord Darby. They are calling the killers “Burkers” because they seem to be copying Burke and Hare, Edinburgh criminals, in the way the people are killed. They are preying on young men, “Italian Boys” that were said to be sold by their parents and in hopes, they would have a better life, but that was never meant to be. The boys were abused, many living on the streets. Lady Darby soon finds that people have long memories and some are sure she is involved with these bodysnatchers or at the very least knows who they are.
The newlyweds have also been asked to investigate the murder of the eldest son of Lord Redditch. He was killed close to his home and Kiera and Sabastian were the first on the scene. The killing had similarities with the “burker” death but Kiera and Sabastian believe that is what the killer just wants them to think. Will this murder be pinned on the burkers while the real killer goes free?
I anxiously await each new book in this series because Anna Lee Huber is such a talented storyteller. Her words transport the reader back in time so effortlessly. The scenes come alive from the gritty streets on foggy nights to the amazing homes in all their grandeur.
Ms. Huber also creates wonderful characters. Lady Darby was grown so much over the course of the story. After the death of the husband that kept her captured to illustrate the intricate parts of the body for his textbooks to the strong woman, she is today. Married to the man she truly loves, his partner in many sordid investigations, soon to be the mother of his child. She is intelligent and an independent thinker and his true equal. Very uncommon for the time and place. Sebastian Gage has grown too. He went against his father’s wishes by getting involved with Kiera and then marrying her. Their union has made him a stronger man and she truly brings out the best in him.
They are surrounded by a wonderful supporting cast. Their servants Bree and Anderley, who are much more than servants, they are trusted by Gage and Kiera and step up to take part in the investigation. They can go places and talk to those below floors in ways Gage and Kiera can’t. Add to this the vast cast of the noble realm, the families, the staffs, the Bow Street Runners, The New Police, and more. There are a lot of characters but Ms. Huber gives them great definition making each unique and memorable.
The mystery is very complex encompassing many situations. A true puzzler as clues are revealed and pieced together in many different ways until they all align and fall into place. I enjoyed following along each step of the way. I did have the killer on my radar but was still guessing right up to the final reveal.
These books can each be read on their own but I believe they should be read in order to realize all the character development. Plus they are all excellent stories that shouldn’t be missed by fans of this genre.
Until next year Lady Darby. I am excited for our next adventure!
To Find out more about Anna Lee Huber visit her website here.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”