Wednesday, May 12, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: A Wicked Conceit by Anna Lee Huber

I have yet to be disappointed by one of Anna Lee Huber’s A Lady Darby Mystery novels, set in Scotland and London in the 1830s. The latest release is A Wicked Conceit.

The detective couple Lady Kiera Darby and her husband, Sebastian Gage, are about to become parents. Having just returned from solving their last crime (in A Stroke of Malice), they had decided to take a break from investigative work until after the birth of their baby. No such luck.

An anonymously authored book has just been published based on the life of a leading figure of the underworld, Bonnie Brock Kincaid. This criminal villain has crossed paths with Kiera and Gage several times before. Although ruthless, he has a soft spot for Kiera, especially since she helped him find his younger sister, Maggie, the only person he truly cares about. Gage can’t stand him and doesn’t trust him.

The anonymous book throws an unwelcome spotlight on Kincaid, endangering his enterprises and emboldening his rivals. The book is a mixture of truth and falsehood. Unfortunately, one of the falsehoods is that Lady “Dalby” and the criminal had an affair and that the baby she now carries is not her husband’s. All of society knows that Lady Dalby is a thinly veiled reference to Lady Darby.

If the book weren’t bad enough, theaters throughout Edinburgh adapt the story into wildly successful plays. Once again, Kiera is the subject of malicious gossip.

As a sidenote, the plays make Kincaid out to be a swashbuckling hero, and a rash of petty crimes imitating his partly fictional exploits has broken out. The police are furious, Kincaid is furious, and Gage and Kiera are furious. All parties are desperate to discover the author, especially when rumors of a sequel start circulating.

Kiera and Gage begin investigating authorship, but when the publisher is murdered, they find themselves seeking the killer. The tension is heightened by Kiera’s imminent due date. AND, for added conflict, Kiera has not yet told Gage a family secret she learned in the previous book. She fears that when he finds out, he’ll be devastated. And angry at her for not telling him sooner.

A Wicked Conceit is fast-paced and well-plotted. The relationship between Kiera and her husband is strong, but still has a few kinks to be worked out, which keeps the romance angle fresh. The series continues to impress! 

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