Thursday, August 16, 2018

Book Review: A Study in Death by Anna Lee Huber

A Study in Death
Author: Anna Lee Huber
Series: Lady Darby Mystery (Book 4)
Publication: Berkley (July 7, 2015)

Description: Scotland, 1831. After a tumultuous courtship complicated by three deadly inquiries, Lady Kiera Darby is thrilled to have found both an investigative partner and a fiancĂ© in Sebastian Gage. But with her well-meaning—and very pregnant—sister planning on making their wedding the event of the season, Kiera could use a respite from the impending madness.

Commissioned to paint the portrait of Lady Drummond, Kiera is saddened when she recognizes the pain in the baroness’s eyes. Lord Drummond is a brute, and his brusque treatment of his wife forces Kiera to think of the torment caused by her own late husband.

Kiera isn’t sure how to help, but when she finds Lady Drummond prostrate on the floor, things take a fatal turn. The physician called to the house and Lord Drummond appear satisfied to rule her death natural, but Kiera is convinced that poison is the real culprit.

Now, armed only with her knowledge of the macabre and her convictions, Kiera intends to discover the truth behind the baroness’s death—no matter what, or who, stands in her way…

My Thoughts: In March 1831, Lady Kiera Darby is engaged to gentleman inquiry agent Sebastian Gage and accepting commissions for portraits. Her current subject is Lady Drummond who seems to be having the same difficulties with her husband that Kiera did with hers. Lord Drummond is a former Navy man who rules his wife with an iron hand. When she arrives for Lady Drummond's next sitting, she is surprised to find her dying on the floor. Kiera is suspicious but the doctor called in by her husband has diagnosed an apoplexy. Kiera thinks it looks a lot more like poison.

Kiera convinces Gage to help her investigate and together they check out Lady Drummond's friends and local apothecaries. Even Bonnie Brock Kincaid gets involved, much to Gage's dismay. While investigating, Keira is also preoccupied with her very pregnant sister's health and her brother-in-law's seeming indifference to his wife's plight. Throw in Gage's father Lord Gage who has come to Edinburgh and is very much opposed to their marriage and Gage's own secretive nature. Add, too, that the rumors that plagued her right after her husband's death seem to be making a reappearance leading to snubs and whispers following wherever she goes. Keira has a lot of emotional ups and downs during the course of this episode.

The story had me wondering why any gently born woman would get married at this time. A woman was her husband's property and physical and mental abuse was much more common and almost acceptable. One example in this story is of a woman married to a gambler who had almost gambled them into the poorhouse who was plotting to hide her jewelry from him. The idea that the jewelry belonged to the husband rather than the wife was the way it was. I liked Kiera's solution to help the wife. I also liked the comparison between a wife and a concubine. The one in this story owned her home and gifts given to her by her protectors.

Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this latest episode starring Lady Kiera Darby and Sebastian Gage.

Favorite Quote:
She glanced about her once more. "Because it seems awfully convenient for Lord Drummond that his wife is suddenly deceased since her dowry is spent and he's about to be floating up the River Tick. Unless he can find a wealthy new bride, that is.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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