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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

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Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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9 / 25 books. 36% done!

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6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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23 / 100 books. 23% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

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58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

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61 / 165 books. 37% done!
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)


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.

Eclipse-Chasing Mystery/Thriller Tense, Twisty

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

August 1999—Laura knows little about solar eclipses, but when her college friends decide to take a trip to the Cornish coast to witness one, she's all in.  She meets Kit McCall, a passionate, principled eclipse chaser, at a pre-trip planning meeting and falls swiftly in love.  By the time they travel together to Lizard Point, they're an established couple, both eager to experience the upcoming, sure-to-be-brilliant phenomenon.  But, in the chaotic, carnival-like atmosphere on the Point, Laura witnesses something even more life-changing than the eclipse.  She's not exactly sure what she's seeing; she only knows she has to intervene.  Grateful for her aid, 19-year-old Beth Taylor latches on to Laura, even showing up later on her London doorstep.  Leery of their new houseguest, Kit and Laura do what they can to help.  However, when things with Beth take an unsettling turn, they know they have to distance themselves from the increasingly unstable young woman.

March 2015—Now married to Kit and pregnant with twins, Laura still lives in fear.  Although the McCalls have taken great pains to hide their identities—they have new names, no social media profiles, burner phones, no personal photos published on the Internet, etc—Laura remains anxious, terrified of being discovered by Beth.  Kit's desire to go on an eclipse-chasing trip fills her with dread.  When his excursion triggers a brush with the past, Laura is forced to face the truth about what really happened in Cornwall.  With everything—and everyone—she loves at risk, she must find a way to stop her worst nightmare from coming to fruition.  

He Said She Said by English author Erin Kelly is an engrossing thriller that's both timely (more so when I read it back in July) and terrifying.  Complex and twisty, it kept me guessing and on the edge-of-my-seat until the very last page.  Although the novel is sad and depressing, it's also a tense, suspenseful page-turner from which you'll be hard pressed to look away.  If you're a twisty mystery fan, you'll definitely want to check out He Said She Said as well as other books by Erin Kelly.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of books by Sharon Bolton and Jane Casey)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, sexual content, disturbing subject matter, and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of He Said She Said from the generous folks at Minotaur Books (a division of St. Martin's Press/Macmillan).  Thank you!
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