Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am happy to feature A Stoke of Malice by Anna Lee Huber today
which isn’t technically a cozy but had to squeeze it in here!
A Stroke of Malice (A Lady Darby Mystery)
8th in Series
Setting – Scotland
Publisher: Berkley (April 7, 2020)
Paperback: 384 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07V111W1F
Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are looking forward to celebrating with new friends at an exciting yearly soiree, but they soon learn that murder never takes a holiday in the latest riveting installment in this national bestselling series.
January 1832. After enjoying a delightful few weeks with her family, expectant mother Kiera and Sebastian Gage have been invited to the Duchess of Bowmontʼs Twelfth Night party in Traquair, Scotland. Though she normally avoids such fashionable, rambunctious events, Kiera is ready to join in the festive merrymaking. But upon their arrival at the opulent estate, it becomes obvious that all is not merry in their hostess’s home. The family appears to be under a great strain, and someone seems determined to cause mayhem among the guests with a series of forged notes.
Matters swiftly turn from irksome to downright deadly when the partygoers stumble upon a decomposing body in the castleʼs crypt. The corpse is thought to be the duchessʼs son-in-law who had purportedly traveled to Paris more than a month earlier. It is evident the man met with foul play, and Kiera and Gage soon realize that a ruthless murderer walks among them—and may well be a member of the duchessʼs own family. And when the investigation takes a treacherous turn, Kiera discovers just how deep the killer is willing to dig to keep their secrets from ever seeing the light of day.
Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage have arrived in Traquair, Scotland to attend Duchess of Bowmontʼs Twelfth Night party. There is an eerie undercurrent running through the castle but Kiera and Gage are ready for the big event which begins with trumpets and ends with murder. When Lord Edward leads guests on a ghost tour in catacombs under Kirkbryde Abbey a new corpse is found. It appears the duchessʼs son-in-law is the victim of foul play and the murderer could be one of the party’s guests. At their host’s request, Gage and Kiera find themselves leading the investigation and uncovering some weighty secrets along the way.
The characters Anna Lee Huber has created are stellar and their development over the course of the series has been excellent. Even heavy with child Lady Kiera Darby is a force when it comes to getting to the truth. Her husband Sebastian Gage is a caring and loving man who knows what a strong, intelligent woman his wife is. Together they appear to be unstoppable and uncommon for the 1800s. Ms. Huber surrounds these main characters with a diverse cast of supporting characters across all classes of the aristocracy. Gage and Kiera are usually assisted by their servants Bree and Anderley and this time Kiera’s brother is on hand to help as well.
The author sets a scene in almost a magical way. From the deep, dank catacombs, to the Sunlaws suites and ballrooms, and the Scottish countryside. The dresses, kilts, and costumes. All the people and places truly come alive with her vivid descriptions. The cover of the book gives the overall chilly feel of the time but Huber’s descriptive detail is like no other. You can almost smell the air, feel the breezes, and hear the clicks of the heels on the floors. She truly does take you into the story in a meaningful way.
As I have come to expect from this author, the mystery is very complex and full of stress-filled moments. Everyone seems to be hiding something or holding something back. The lore of ghostly friar that keeps servants on edge adds a nice little twist. The mystery takes Anderley hither and yon and Gage and Kiera into the nearby town and all around the large estate in search of answers. Well-written and plotted, I was totally clueless until the very final clues started to fall into place.
This story was one to be savored. I read it over the course of three evenings hurrying through each day so that I could get back to it.
A Stroke of Malice is a fantastic addition to this series. I do highly recommend them all. I am very excited about next year’s book in this series.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
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.”