Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Book Review: Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber

Mortal Arts
Author: Anna Lee Huber
Series: Lady Darby Mystery (Book 2)
Publication: Berkley (September 3, 2013)

Description: Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue—in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn’t quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator—and romantic entanglement—Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery.

Kiera’s old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother—and Kiera’s childhood art tutor—William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor’s plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend—and save the marriage of another…

My Thoughts: Keira, her sister Alana, and her brother-in-law Philip are on their way from the Highlands of Scotland to Edinburgh where Alanna can be nearer to medical assistance for her latest pregnancy when they take a side trip to deal with a summons from Philip's aunt. Lady Hollingworth has some qualms about her daughter's engagement to Michael Dalmay, a childhood friend of Alana and Keira. Michael's older brother has been missing for some years and Lady Hollingsworth wants Michael to petition to have him declared dead so that he can become the new Baron.

This would be a tense enough situation for Keira, Philip and Alana to come in on,  but it gets worse. Gage is there after leaving Keira quite abruptly at the conclusion of their last adventure. Keira has a number of questions about their relationship or lack of one. Even more confusing is that Keira learns that Michael's older brother Will is not dead but had been committed to a lunatic asylum by his father ten years earlier. Upon his father's death, Michael had searched to locate his brother and bring him home. Will's problems began when he was fighting for England in the war against Napoleon. He suffered from melancholia and nightmares. His incarceration in the primitive and cruel environment of asylums at the time did not improve his sanity.

Keira remembers Will fondly. He was her art tutor for some months when she was fifteen. She refuses to believe that he would be violent and that he was responsible for the disappearance of a young local woman. Gage is not at all sure that Will is as harmless as Keira believes he is. However, they team up to investigate both the young woman's disappearance and Will's continuing mental problems.

This was an excellent historical mystery. I enjoy the growing relationship between Gage and Keira even though his secretiveness is almost enough to derail any hope of a relationship. I liked the historical accuracy of the story and the information about the early days of medical discoveries and almost total ignorance of mental illness which played a major role in the plot. I also liked learning about the state of law enforcement at the time in the person of Constable Paxton who uses his position as a way to boost his ego and importance.

I look forward to reading more of Keira and Gage's adventures.

Favorite Quote:
Instantly I began to wonder why Gage seemed to be exerting his charm upon me. He had rarely done so before, and then only when he wanted something from me. I scolded myself for being taken in, even if only for a second, by his charisma. I, more than anyone, knew I had to keep my wits about me when I was dealing with Gage. My attraction to him aside, he was a very clever and enigmatic man. And I was not about to become another member of his slavering horde of female followers. If Gage was suddenly determined to befuddle me, I was resolved to find out why.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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