Thursday, September 01, 2016

Review: A Study in Death

Anna Lee Huber
AStudy in Death (A Lady Darby Mystery, Book 4)
By Anna Lee Huber
Berkley, July 2015

About the Book

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 Review

When Lady Drummond’s physician immediately pronounces apoplexy as the cause of her sudden and violent demise, Lady Kiera Darby suspects otherwise. Lord Drummond is known to be a brutish husband, but is he the only suspect? Kiera suspects poison after considering Lady Drummond’s symptoms, but how was it administered and why?

With the help of the colorful Bonnie Brock, Gage and Kiera must uncover the source of the poison and most importantly, find a suspect, when it seems that everyone but her moody husband adored her. Back at Cromarty House, Kiera’s sister Alana faces a potentially dangerous confinement with her fourth child but busies herself over planning Gage and Kiera’s upcoming wedding.

This is the fourth book in the Lady Darby Mystery Series, and Kiera’s multi-layered personality really shines. Kiera is loyal, smart, and committed, but unlike so many literary sleuths, Kiera has deep secrets, sharp edges, and flaws. Gage and Kiera must learn to ignore their secretive instincts and trust one another, both as investigators and spouses, and that is a complicated and often painful journey, as life always is.

Kiera’s new friendship with a character from an earlier book, Lady Stratford, is delightful and I hope her character reappears in future books. This series has all the elements: a vibrant female lead, worthy opponents, and a realistic romance. It’s just a shame that I have to wait a year before joining Kiera again.