Friday, January 12, 2018

Second Installment Proves Lady Darby Series Just Gets Better As It Goes

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Mortal Arts, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, The Anatomist's Wife.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

Having been the assistant of her anatomist husband while he made a macabre study of death, Lady Kiera Darby has earned an unsavory, though undeserved, reputation.  Now a widow, the 25-year-old painter has gladly retreated from society.  Her sister's country home has become a refuge, in spite of the unfortunate murder that took place there recently.  When Kiera's pregnant sister is encouraged to relocate to Edinburgh to be closer to medical help, Kiera knows she must go, too.  Leery of society gossips, she tries to remain in the background, blending as well as she can into the scenery.

It's not to be.  When a local girl goes missing and Kiera's old art tutor, William Dalmay, becomes a suspect in a possible crime, Kiera is once again drawn into the intrigue.  Paired with Sebastian Gage, an infuriating inquiry agent whose many charms are not lost on the widow, she vows to prove William's innocence.  The more the duo investigates, however, the more it looks like William may, in fact, not be as innocent as he seems.  Kiera refuses to believe he's guilty, but she can't deny that the 40-year-old war veteran has been suffering from a severe case of shell shock.  Could he, in his debilitating illness, have done something terrible?  It's up to Kiera and Sebastian to find out.

While I liked The Anatomist's Wife, the first book in Anna Lee Huber's historical mystery series, I enjoyed this second installment more.  Mortal Arts boasts a more exotic setting, a more complex story, and a more exciting (albeit slow-burning) romantic subplot.  All of these elements work together to make it more engrossing on the whole.  While Mortal Arts has some grim parts, overall it's a clean, entertaining mystery that will appeal to readers who fancy detective novels with colorful historical settings, strong female leads, and fewer gory, graphic details than you find in a typical mystery/suspense novel.  I'm loving this series that just keeps getting better and better.

(Readalikes:  Other books in the Lady Darby series, including The Anatomist's Wife; A Grave Matter; A Study in Death; A Pressing Engagement [novella]; As Death Draws Near; and A Brush With Shadows)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Mortal Arts with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

4 comments:

  1. I love when the second book in a series is better than the first. Especially because of where your expectations are.

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  2. I really would like to start this series. Perhaps later this spring.

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  3. I agree with about the way this series just gets better and better; and I really love how Kiera and Sebastian's relationship progresses with each book. :)

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  4. I've already put these on my TBR since you said they get better as they go. I'm excited to here about the romantic subplot. :D

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