Tuesday, December 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber

My last review of the year is following up on a historical mystery series that I got started with last year: A Lady Darby Mystery. The latest release is book three – A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber.

Lady Kiera Darby is a talented young artist, a portrait painter, who became entangled in a very wrong marriage at a young age because she wanted to be allowed to paint, something ladies of her social status didn’t do. Unfortunately, her husband, Sir Anthony, was an anatomist who forced her to paint his dissections. He was cruel to her in other ways as well. There were other shenanigans going on in the medical dissection world at the time, including grave robbing and murder. Sir Anthony is now dead. In books one and two, Kiera’s reputation was in ruins. Kiera was beginning to make her painful way back into society, or to hide from it, sheltered by her loving sister, when murders that needed solving popped up. Because of her knowledge of anatomy, and all-around intelligence and good sense, she proved very helpful to the investigator, one extremely handsome and kind, if secretive, Sebastian Gage.

Sparks have been flying between them for two books, but other problems and suspicions have been keeping them apart.

Now, Kiera is back in her old family home, staying for a time with her brother while she mourns the death of an old friend and wonders what to do about Gage. In the midst of her aunt and uncle’s annual Hogmanay Ball, a servant stumbles in to report a killing and a grave robbery. Kiera should not want to get messed up with this, but oddly, she does. And not only because it likely means she will see Gage again, but because she wants to be useful and she has discovered she has a talent for crime solving.

The grave robbery is unusual because the victim is long dead so there is no corpse to sell. Nothing is left but bones and only these were taken. Clothing and jewelry was left behind. Kiera sends for Gage at the request of the victim’s family. When he arrives, it is with surprising news. This isn’t the first such incident. Someone is holding skeletons for ransom.

Once again, Kiera and Gage team up to ferret out clues and chase down culprits. There are a couple of false leads as well as an interesting and dangerous adversary that I expect we’ll see again in future books.

Kiera and Gage are a well-matched, engaging couple and their romance progresses apace. I did find myself starting to get a little frustrated with Kiera’s waffling, but there were reminders that she couldn’t let go of the trauma from her first husband and had serious trust issues, so I cut her some slack. It will be interesting to see where the pair will go from here.

While this book can stand alone, I highly recommend starting with The Anatomist's Wife, then reading Mortal Arts and following up with book three. Because who doesn't read series in order?

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