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.
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 Harekilling people from the streets and selling their bodies to medical schools. Then Kiera's pasta past she thought she'd finally made peace withrises 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?
About the Author
Anna Lee Huber is the Daphne Award-winning author of the national bestselling Lady Darby Mysteries and the Verity Kent Mysteries. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in music and minored in psychology. She currently resides with her family and is hard at work on her next novel.
Read an Excerpt
So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
it spills itself in fearing to be spilt.
November 5, 1831
I didn't know whether to laugh or feel sorry for the poor fellow. For all his tailored clothing and the jaunty angle of his hat, which refused to stay on his head properly, he was in a ragged state. A scraggly tuft of hair flopped over one eye and his arms dangled limply at his sides, hindering rather than assisting the pair of footmen who struggled between them to guide him into his place.
With one last grunt of effort from the servants, he was hoisted into position to stare down at us with unseeing eyes. A crooked grin stretched across his face. I wasn't sure I wouldn't rather his expression have been more fierce. Gnashing teeth or a disapproving scowl would surely be more appropriate.
"I say, now, he looks much too jolly to torch," my brother Trevor remarked beside me, echoing my sentiments.
One of the footmen ascended a small stepladder before being handed a bottle of brandy from the butler. He reached up over the lip of the raised serving bowl to douse the enormous oval of dried plum pudding at its center and then proceeded to pour a liberal amount of the liquor down the wooden stake stabbed into the dessert's middle, on which the smiling effigy had been mounted. The caramel liquid trickled down over the entire concoction to form a lake in the bottom of the crystal dish, perfuming the dining room with its pungent aroma.
"Ten quid it sets the flowers on fire," Alfred, the newly minted Lord Tavistock, muttered under his breath just beyond my shoulder.
The lush floral arrangements on either side of the display did appear a trifle too close for comfort. As was the greenery draped from the glittering chandelier overhead. The Guy was not so tall as to become tangled in them, but considering the copious amount of brandy the footman had used to drench the pudding, who knew how high the flames would leap.
Trevor scoffed. "Twenty, it sets the entire table alight."
At this dire prediction about the demise of the Countess of Redditch's lavish spread of food, my stomach rumbled, as it did so often of late.
My husband's gaze dropped to mine from where he stood at my other side, his lips quirking in amusement.
I lifted a hand to my abdomen self-consciously. "I can't help it," I whispered. "Not when there are tartlets being dangled before my eyes."
"Well, you are eating for two."
"I just wish they would get on with it," Lorna, Lady Tavistock, huffed.
I glanced over my shoulder at her heavily lashed green eyes.
Her pretty pink mouth twisted into a moue of displeasure. "This is torturous for a woman in my state."
I couldn't withhold a laugh.
"What?" Her lips creased into a coy smile. "I'm sure you know what I mean, Kiera, being in the same predicament."
Before I could reply, a murmur of excitement swept through the room. I turned back to see that the Earl of Redditch had stepped forward, brandishing a long spill of wood. He lit the tip in one of the candles positioned down the center of the large table and then paused for dramatic effect, grinning at the assembly before him, much like the effigy looming over his silver head.
"What say you? Shall I burn the Guy?"
Several of the men replied with hearty approval, while others began to clap. We soon all joined in, applauding as he lowered the spill toward the pool of brandy at the base of the pudding. Many of us gasped as a burst of flame flared upward, igniting the dessert and the base of the effigy's clothing. I pressed a hand to my chest, giggling at my reaction as the fire settled into a steadier blaze. Albeit, one more intense than would be to my liking were the spectacle taking place in my dining room.
I was not unfamiliar with the traditions of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations, which commemorated the foiled Gun Powder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his collaborators schemed to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But my past experiences had been limited to the country. There we attended a church service in the morning for the reading of the Observance Act and then gathered with a small party of local nobility and gentry, sometimes walking out to see the bonfires lit in the nearest village after nightfall. These bonfires inevitably featured their own effigy of Guy, but this was the first time I'd seen one burned inside someone's home, and an earl's palatial residence, at that.
The celebrations among the nobility in London were generally quite tame. However, due to the King's coronation in September, a larger number than usual of the aristocracy had remained in town for autumn and all the fetes following the royal event. So the Countess of Redditch had decided to host a Bonfire Night Ball, complete with a makeshift bonfire on her dining room table.
"I do hope they anchored that effigy in more than that mound of pudding." Gage's brow furrowed as he studied the burning spectacle.
"Well, let's not stand around waiting to see. You and Tavistock fetch us some food before the whole thing goes up in flames," I declared as I swiveled to thread my arm through Lorna's.
"Yes, do," she enthused.
Gage's face split into a grin, but it was his cousin, Alfred, who prodded him forward.
"Far be it for me to disobey such an order. If I've learned anything in the last three months, it's never to stand between a woman who is increasing and her food." His eyes twinkled at us devilishly as he danced out of the way, narrowly missing his wife's playful swat with her fan.
Trevor escorted us, as well as his own dinner companion, Miss Ellen Newbury, through a maze of puffed sleeves, some so voluminous as to double the width of the wearer's shoulders. I wasn't sure I would ever reconcile myself to this ridiculous style, much preferring the narrower shoulders of my parma violet gown with ˆ la Reine sleeves of blond net. Then again, I had never cared much for what was fashionable. Only recently had I made an effort, so as not to embarrass my new husband.
Sebastian Gage was one of the most dashing and attractive gentlemen in all of Britain. That he had wed me, a scandalous outcast, had shocked more than a few members of the ton, and infuriated the mothers of debutantes who each thought their own daughter would be a better match.
After settling us at a table, Trevor went off to do his duty filling Miss Newbury's plate. Unfortunately, I realized too late that we were situated much too close to where Lady Felicity Spencer held sway. Our gazes locked for a moment across the short distance before I looked away, not wishing to incite her antagonism. Though she had in no way confronted me directly-in fact, I believed I'd only exchanged greetings with her twice-I was well aware of her scorn and not-so-silent ridicule. No, a woman like Lady Felicity would never be so overt with her contempt. Instead, she let her veiled comments to others and reminders about my past do the trick.
As such, I had navigated the past ten weeks since our arrival in London by avoiding her and her like. I'd discovered that not all members of society held me in disdain, and so I gravitated toward those who were more welcoming. Lorna herself was somewhat of a persona non grata, being the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, though in time her status as Viscountess Tavistock would render that fact obsolete. However, the Newburys were among those of sterling reputation who viewed me with kindness, and so I found I could converse easily with Miss Newbury.
The sweet-natured girl had just finished describing to me the bonnet she had purchased earlier that day when my friend, the Dowager Lady Stratford, appeared at my elbow.
"Are these seats claimed?" She dimpled at me, her cheeks flushed with happiness. The proscribed mourning period for her rotten blackguard of a husband had only recently ended, and I was pleased to see her attired in a stunning azure evening gown which highlighted her golden beauty.
"By you, of course," I replied, pleased to see my cousin Rye was once again her dinner companion. I strongly suspected he had something to do with my friend's radiance of late.
"In all the excitement over the effigy, I suspect you missed it," Charlotte exclaimed in a hushed voice as Rye moved off to fill her plate with choice tidbits. "But several of the gentlemen nearly came to blows in the front hall."
"You're jesting," Lorna gasped.
She shook her head, her eyes wide. "For a moment, I thought Rye was going to have to step in to stop them." She leaned closer. "And one of them was Lord Melbourne."
"The home secretary?" I glanced over my shoulder toward the doors, though my view was blocked by those milling about the room.
"Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. And Lord Gage was able to help resolve the situation."
This did not surprise me. Gage's father was a gentleman inquiry agent of some renown, with a number of highly placed friends, including the former prime minister and war hero-the Duke of Wellington-and even King William himself. That he might also number Lord Melbourne among his associates was more than probable, despite Melbourne being a Whig when many of Lord Gage's other allies were Tories. I'd long realized Lord Gage did not ascribe to one political position but adapted his words and views to move among them all.
"What were they fighting about?" I asked.
Charlotte grimaced. "What else? The Reform Bill."
Much of London continued to be unsettled by the agitation caused by the House of Lords latest rejection of a second attempt at passing a Reform Bill some weeks earlier. The proposed law would have redistributed representation in the House of Commons, doing away with the so-called rotten boroughs-which consisted of a very small number of constituents controlled by a wealthy patron from the House of Lords-and increased the franchise to give the vote to more male citizens. It was popular among the middle and lower classes, a number of whom had reacted angrily at the upper class's refusal to grant them this concession. Several small altercations had occurred in London, while other cities, such as Bristol, had seen widespread rioting. The populace was seething with resentment, and the aristocracy could no longer continue to ignore it. Not with memories of the French Revolution, and the way their peasantry had overthrown the government and guillotined countless numbers of the royalty and nobility, still fresh in many minds.
I sighed. "In truth, I've been braced for news of violence. In many ways, Guy Fawkes Night seems tailor-made for such displays of public defiance, even if we are celebrating the foiling of a past plot of rebellion. But I never expected it to erupt between two gentlemen."
"Hadn't expected what to erupt?" Gage asked as he set a glass of claret and a plate laden with food in front of me.
"Apparently Melbourne almost came to blows with some chap in the entry hall over the Reform Bill," I explained briefly. "But your father is managing the situation."
A pucker formed between his eyes as he turned to gaze out over the assembled guests. "All the same, I suppose I should speak with him to be sure my assistance isn't needed."
"After you eat." I pressed a hand to his arm. "The matter is resolved for the moment, so there's no sense in hurrying off. Besides, you were correct. That effigy looks in danger of tumbling over into the food at any moment." The Guy slumped to the side, consumed by flame, and a hazard to any who dared pass around that side of the table.
"They're removing him," he replied. "Just as soon as the footmen return with a large tub of water to dunk him in."
"Yes." His lips were tight with disapproval. "I gather our host did not think the matter through."
"I imagine not." I watched as a piece of smoldering cloth dropped into the serving bowl. "I doubt anyone will be enjoying that plum pudding."
Alfred snorted. "Not unless they're partial to burned yarn and wool."
The men went to fill their own plates with the splendid fare before returning to join us in our enjoyment of the feast. The earl and countess had spared no expense for the evening. Roast fowls and lamb, ragout of veal, lobster, galantine, and for dessert sweet custards, meringues, and even luscious gâteau mille-feuile. I ate my fill and lingered over another glass of claret, enjoying a pleasant hour of conversation. Not even the sharp glint I spied in Lady Felicity's eye when I happened to catch a glimpse of her could sour my delight.
Gage and I followed the others back toward the ballroom, where the notes of a waltz could already be heard spilling forth. Ladies in opulent gowns twirled in the arms of the men in their dark evening attire beneath the glittering chandeliers. The spectacular plasterwork ceiling and white paneled walls were gilded with rococo flourishes, and the floor gleamed to a high polish. Clusters of amaryllis and hyacinths were hung between each set of wall sconces, adding a welcome dash of color, as well as their pleasant scents, to the miasma of perfumes and body odor.
This was definitely an improvement over the stench of charred ash and fabric dueling with the aromas of food and spirits in the dining room, but only just. I'd discovered being with child made my already strong sense of smell even more acute, so we lingered for a moment at the edge of the ballroom where fresh air swept up the stairs from the entry hall below.
I swiveled to see our hostess, the Countess of Redditch, bustling toward me.
"My dearest lady," she exclaimed gaily. "I was hoping to have a word with you."
"But, of course," I replied with a smile.
Some weeks after my return to London, I'd realized there was little point in continuing to ask those who were not close acquaintances to address me as Mrs. Gage rather than by the title accorded to me from my first marriage. For one, it was tedious, especially when the request was all but ignored. So amid society, I remained Lady Darby by courtesy, though not by right, since my late husband, Sir Anthony, outranked my second.
Judging from the bright sheen of Lady Redditch's eyes, I suspected she'd already drank more than a few glasses of the madeira that scented her breath, but her carriage remained erect, her speech clear. Her soft brown hair, liberally threaded with gray, had been swept up onto her head in one of the most current styles and accented with ostrich feathers.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great detail of the time without bogging down the story. The main characters continue to grow individually and as a couple. Gage shows her repeatedly that what others think doesn't matter to him. She is what matters. What a marvelously unlikely, but plausible, murderer.
An excellent addition to the Lady Darby series. Lady Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage head to London where Lady Darby has not been since she left under circumstances beyond her control. We get a look at the different classes of people in the 1830’s. The haves and the have nots. People just trying to survive. Parents unable to care for their children sending them away for a, hopefully, better life. The dregs of society preying on others. This book is just delicious! The mystery is one that had me stumped for a while, but it seemed to stump Gage and Keira even longer! I loved the interaction between Keira and Gage’s father. Perhaps understanding will eventually develop between them. If you haven’t read the Lady Darby series, you can certainly read this book as a stand-alone, but why deprive yourself of hours of reading enjoyment! Read the series!!
if you enjoy historical mysteries you will love this book is for you. Anna Lee Huber’s attention to detail and historical accuracy combine with an intriguing plot and characters. An Artless Demise is a great addition to the Lady Darby series!
Dollycas’s Thoughts 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!
The animosity of the people are no match for Lady Darby!
While this series has been on my radar for a couple of years, this is honestly the first Lady Darby book I've read. I was somewhat worried that it would be difficult to pick things up seven books into the series, but Huber was skillful at inserting all the backstory I needed to be able to follow along without a problem. Lady Kiera (Darby) Gage is a very strong-minded likable heroine. She knows her mind and is quick at matching wits with others when needed. She's also artistic and very much a lady of her time. I loved the realistic blend of historical accuracy and chutzpah in the sense that while Kiera acts as an investigative partner to her husband, she still maintains her role in society and the author was careful to find the perfect balance between the two roles. She carries a gun, but doesn't chase down criminals herself. She attends grand soirees and also sketches criminals when needed for the police. I also really loved the relationship between Kiera and her husband Sebastian. I need to go back and read the earlier books to experience their falling in love and getting married! It's always amazing when you read about a man who really values his wife for her intelligence and personality. Admiring her as she is and not as he's expecting her to be... and they have what seems to be a perfectly mutually respectful partnership... with a side of passion. This particular book was a great introduction to their relationship, as well, because it forces both of them to really explore the abuses Kiera suffered in her first marriage and how they feel about each other and their marriage in general. Kiera receives a lot of beautiful support from friends and family in this book. The mystery was built around an interesting historical phenomenon, as well. I had heard vaguely about people digging up bodies illegally for cadaver autopsies, but I'd never actually heard of "burking." It made for both an interesting history lesson and a great cover for the murderer's motives... I won't say more for fear of spoiling things. I'll just end with a hearty recommendation to readers who love historical mysteries and the comment that I will be going back at some point to start this series from the beginning!!
The latest Lady Darby takes us back to London, where Keira and Gage deal with her past as it pushes its way into the present, Gage's imperious and difficult father, and Keira's self-doubts--all brought on by the arrest of four burkers. The story doesn't disappoint. Huber deftly weaves fiction and fact throughout the book, and the result is an engrossing mystery that, as always, leaves us anxious for the next installment in this wonderful series.
How do I love this series? Let me count the ways: 1- Sebastian Gage 2- Kiera 3- Sebastian with Kiera 4- Sebastian Okay, so I'm a little (a lot) partial towards Sebastian. I was afraid that great chemistry between them would start dwindling after they got married, but it's still there, thank goodness, which (let's be honest) is the main reason for reading this series. This story was particularly creepy in certain ways. Given Kiera's past and what she endured at the hands of her first husband, the theme of grave robbers and burkists was one that touched her and Sebastian more closely than some others. To know that this went on for real, and to that point, was really creepy to read about. It might be one of the reasons why the old cemeteries in my country all have very high stone walls. If you like historical (Georgian era) clean novels with decidedly Gothic elements and romance, awesome characterization and engaging setting, then I recommend this series. You can't go wrong. I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.
The Lady Darby Mystery Series is one of my favorites, and AN ARTLESS DEMISE is a wonderful addition. Huber never disappoints, filling the pages with historically faithful details, well defined, enjoyable characters, and an artfully crafted, intelligent mystery. In AN ARTLESS DEMISE, newlyweds Kiera and Gage return to London following their honeymoon to find political unrest and a town up in arms about Burkers (criminals who murder their victims with the intent of selling the bodies to medical schools and anatomists). This brings Kiera’s scandalous past with her deceased anatomist first husband back to the forefront of the Ton. Some of the members of high society go as far as to accuse Kiera of being in cahoots with the Burkers. When a member of their own class is murdered in Mayfair, Kiera and Gage are tasked with finding the killer. As the body count rises, Kiera faces more troubles of her own when someone threatens blackmail. Kiera has grown a great deal over the course of the series, but the publicity of the Burkers brings her self-imposed guilt and shame full circle. A younger, more damaged Kiera would have fled society to hide, but here she comes to terms with her past displaying confidence and mettle. At times I found myself disgusted with the way people treated her and amazed at her inner strength. She even finds her voice to stand up to her demeaning father-in-law. I admire her and cannot wait to see what her future as a wife, mother, and sleuth holds. The mystery is intricate and finely paced. The clues are logically laid out, but I still struggled to pin down the killer for most of the story, which does not happen often. I love to be challenged. Highly recommended. I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher and voluntarily shared my thoughts here.
We have been searching for Historical Fiction for our library collection and the one's that are most popular are the mysteries and this one really lived up to that expectation. It is always wonderful to return to your hometown especially after you married the love of you life but when stranger things started to happen, a well deserved homecoming is short-lived. This book had drama, action and really leaves you thinking on your feet. Our readers love it when books have a bit of a twist to them and really keeps them attentive throughout the story. An enticing novel that is sure to leave you speechless in excitement. We will definitely consider this title for our Historical Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
Pregnant and happy, Kiera returns to London with her husband Gage. Unfortunately, the spectre of her late husband, Lord Darby, rises when London is beset by a series of disappearances and murders attributed to bodysnatchers. An Artless Demise is a very twisty, emotional story that is impossible to put down.
This well-crafted book is a wonderful blend of mystery and history and a romance between one of my favorite couples. The series just keeps getting better and better with each new addition to it. While this is the seventh book in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone. However, I highly recommend that you read the series in order – from the beginning – in order to learn more of Kiera’s history and see how far she’s come and to watch the romance between Kiera and Gage blossom. This book was so suspenseful that my heart was in my throat the whole time I was reading – and yet I couldn’t put it down. There is murder, resurrectionists, blackmail, social unrest and – well – a tad of fatigue and queasiness while dealing with the early days of pregnancy. As with all of the Lady Darby books, there are multiple things happening for Kiera and Gage to unravel. The ‘things’ in this book are only loosely related and each would be a good mystery on its own – but when you put all of them in one book – well – WOW! Kiera fled London a little over two years ago thanks to her first husband’s perfidy. Everyone thought Kiera was as guilty as her husband – just by association. After Kiera’s formal charges were dismissed, her brother and brother-in-law just barely managed to get her out of London before the incensed mobs attacked her. Now, she and Gage have returned for a visit and what raises its ugly head again? Resurrectionists! Everybody in society looks at Kiera and wonders – even outright accuses – her of being involved with them. Then, a body turns up in Mayfair – the heir to one of England’s oldest and most venerable titles. The murder was committed in a manner reminiscent of the resurrectionist murders that happened in Edinburgh a few years earlier. Then a second and third murder committed in the same manner. In the midst of the murder investigations and trying to assist with the resurrectionists trial, someone is blackmailing Kiera. The blackmailers are threatening to go to the papers and accuse Kiera of helping them and her husband. Kiera can’t let that happen because it wouldn’t be just her that it would ruin – Gage, Kiera’s sister, brother, brother-in-law, and unborn child would also suffer. When all is wrapped up, you will be surprised to find who the murderer is and the reasons for the murders. This is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In this series, Lady Darby has tried, unsuccessfully, to put her sordid past behind her but it had always followed her regardless. Although, after her last successful investigation and the recent marriage to her partner, Sebastian Gage, she had started to be grudgingly accepted by her peers. Never one to be a fool, Kiera knew that not everyone was pleased about her new circumstances, but she was willing to put up with some cold stares and whispered slights because overall that was better than what she had previously experienced. Unfortunately, when a recent case of body snatching brought Kiera’s mortifying past back into the limelight, both Kiera and Gage knew that they were going to have to figure out who was behind the crimes before the situation escalated to one of no return for Kiera. There was much to love while reading An Artless Demise! I really felt for Kiera’s character as her past came back to haunt her. It was most distressing to see her once again affected by a past that was in no way her fault but forced upon her by the shackles of her prior marriage to a monster. There was some true growth for Kiera as she navigated the backbiters and people who would love to see her brought low, which was lovely to see. In this book, she had to truly come to terms with her past in order to be able to look to her future and it was very heartwarming to meet her friends, both old and new, who were there to support her during this most distressing time. There was also quite the mystery behind the death’s that were whipping all of London into an uproar! It was the type of tale with twists and turns that will fully engage your imagination as the clues lead from one possibility to another. Overall, An Artless Demise was a thoroughly engaging read and left me excited about reading another installment in the Lady Darby Mystery series! This review is based on a complimentary book I received from Penguin Random House. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
Body Snatchers Threaten London and Lady Darby’s Reputation Lady Darby, Kiera, and her husband Sebastian Gage are back in London. Kiera fled London in the aftermath of the scandal concerning her first husband, Sir Anthony and the body snatchers. Now, she is happily pregnant and beginning to believe her nightmare is over when it seems the body snatchers are back at work and an ex-colleague of her late husband threatens to publish his anatomy journals and implicate her. When a dissolute young lord is found murdered, the family asks Sebastian and Kiera to investigate. The murder has been staged to make it appear the work of the body snatchers, but Kiera and Gage are not convinced. While this is a mystery, the author manages to create a realistic historical picture of the era. The body snatchers killing people on the streets and selling their bodies for medical research was a serious problem and rightfully had the citizens of London terrified. I enjoy the Lady Darby novels because in addition to the mystery, the author paints a delightful picture of Kiera and Sebastian as loving newly weds and their support each other in the trials of a judgmental ton and the disapproval of Sebastian's father. If you enjoy historical mysteries with a background of romance, this is a good one. I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
'I'd learned long ago that just because someone was likeable did not mean they weren't capable of terrible things.' When I read Anna Lee Huber's first novel in the Lady Darby series, 'The Anatomist's Wife', I was hooked. I still feel the same way. I eagerly anticipate each new book in the series. In this offering, Kiera, who is still called Lady Darby, even though she has shed that unfortunate husband, is still a newlywed, married to the charming Sebastian Gage. Her past is coming back to haunt her now, because she has been targeted by a blackmailer. It is November 1831 and she and Gage are back in London after escaping two years prior under very distressing circumstances indeed. Now, a gang of bodysnatchers is at work and have been arrested and once again, Kiera's past, rises up to haunt her. Even though she is not guilty of anything, many in society believe badly of her. London is horrified by these 'burkers' at work in their city. Then the young heir of a noble family is murdered and Kiera and Gage are hired as the inquiry agents to find the culprit. Is this murder the result of the burkers' attempt at procuring another body or is it another sinister monster on the loose? Kiera is now expecting her and Gage's first child, but both of them are determined to solve this crime and indeed clear her name once and for all of the hateful Lord Darby's evil machinations. I love Huber's work, her impeccable research: these bodysnatching events actually happened. And the 'Italian Boy' did also happen. Her ability to weave a fascinating story while also giving us every detail into the lives of the Gages is indeed compelling. I recommend this series. Now I long for the next one. *My thanks to the publishers for making a copy of this book available to me through Net Galley. I was not pressured to leave a review and all the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
While this can be read as a stand-alone, die-hard Lady Darby fans will applaud as Kiera faces the shadows of her past that haunt her with strength and fortitude. In An Artless Demise, the seventh book in this series, we find Lady Darby and her husband, Gage, residing at their home in London. Their newly married domestic bliss is disturbed by several events. The city of London is experiencing civil unrest due to political conflict over reform. Add to this the fact that evidence of "burking", the practice of body snatchers killing people from the streets and selling their bodies to medical schools, is at work in the city. Kiera and her husband must discover if these volatile situations are related to the murder of the heir to a nobleman. Can they keep her reputation from suffering additional damage as they navigate the snubs of society in their newest inquiry? As always, Anna Lee Huber can be counted on for her attention to historical detail, weaving true events into her mysteries. I find her stories to be well-plotted with a fabulous cast of characters. She is a master at penning a character arc that will resonate with her readers. The evolution of Kiera's character throughout the series is heart-warming. As always, Gage can be relied upon to be a swoon-worthy hero who allows his own vulnerability to appear occasionally. It is refreshing for Huber to continue to tell a couple's story after they have married. So many stories end with marriage, not sharing the adventurous journey that follows. I cannot wait to read the next installment in this series, my interest already peaked by the hint at the end of the story. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author/publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
This series continues to get better and better as Gage and Kiera return to London during the Italian Boy murder and subsequent resurrectionist trials in 1831. . Kiera is faced with having to deal with her past and first husband's 'activities.' It's great to see how it all comes together - real history colliding with Kiera's history and how the family comes together towards the end. I definitely recommend reading this!