Thursday, December 10, 2020

Book Review: A Pretty Deceit by Anna Lee Huber

A Pretty Deceit

Anna Lee Huber
Series: A Verity Kent Mystery Book 4
Publication: Kensington Books (October 6, 2020)

Description: In the aftermath of the Great War, the line between friend and foe may be hard to discern, even for indomitable former Secret Service agent Verity Kent, in award-winning author Anna Lee Huber’s thrilling mystery series.

Peacetime has brought little respite for Verity Kent. Intrigue still abounds, even within her own family. As a favor to her father, Verity agrees to visit his sister in Wiltshire. Her once prosperous aunt has fallen on difficult times and is considering selling their estate. But there are strange goings-on at the manor, including missing servants, possible heirloom forgeries, and suspicious rumors—all leading to the discovery of a dead body on the grounds.

While Verity and her husband, Sidney, investigate this new mystery, they are also on the trail of an old adversary—the shadowy and lethal Lord Ardmore. At every turn, the suspected traitor seems to be one step ahead of them. And even when their dear friend Max, the Earl of Ryde, stumbles upon a code hidden among his late father’s effects that may reveal the truth about Ardmore, Verity wonders if they are really the hunters—or the hunted . . .

My Thoughts: The Great War is over, Verity Kent's husband has returned from the fighting after Verity had believed him dead. Verity has been officially retired from her post in British Intelligence. But intrigue and danger haven't left either of them behind.

Verity has been asked by her father to visit her aunt who is having some troubles. Her house had been commandeered by the RAF and now her aunt wants the damages repaired. She also wants Verity to look into the possible forgery of some paintings and the theft of a number of smaller items. Verity's cousin Reg has come back from the war blind but he is chafing under the too close supervision of his mother. These are problems he should be able to handle. Verity quickly determines that the forgeries were done by her uncle when he needed funds. But the thefts and a missing maid are a little more difficult to solve. Most people think the maid ran off to be in the movies and, since Verity has a more pressing investigation, she is willing to believe it. 

As Sidney and Verity attempt to get evidence that Lord Ardmore is doing something that might be treasonous, they discover that he seems to be one step ahead of them wherever they go. But a coded message from the deceased father of Verity's friend Max Ryde opens up possibilities again. Then her father urges her to go back to her aunt's as her man of all work has been found murdered in the west garden and the maid is found buried in a shallow grave. Strangely enough, the two investigations seem to be coming together since Max's father had visited the estate before his death. 

I really enjoyed this mystery and especially enjoyed the setting and the characters. Verity and Sidney are trying to rebuild their marriage since war had them separated for so long. Both did very dangerous things and both are suffering from what we all know as PTSD. The human cost of the war is very apparent in this story both in our main characters lives and also in the lives of many of the other characters in the story. 

Because Verity and Sidney are both upper class and well-to-do, we get a look at the fashions and cars that were popular and also get a glimpse into the lives of that class of people. It is a time of growing social change. We can see it in the difficulties of staffing the homes of the well-to-do since so many men died and so many women were doing other kinds of work. 

They mystery was engaging with coded messages, dastardly villains, Roman ruins, and poison gas. Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this series. 

Favorite Quote:
"The world tells us we must be composed, that we must manage it all and manage our fears. That it's on us that the men must rely to bolster them for the war they must fight, and comfort them when they return from it." I inhaled a swift breath, struggling now to contain my own emotions. "But who bolsters us for the fight we wage at home against the despair? Who comforts us when it all becomes too much, or the man who returns to us is not the same as the one who left?"
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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