An Artless Demise (A Lady Darby Mystery)

Written by Anna Lee Huber
Review by Gini Grossenbacher

Huber delivers her latest installment in The Lady Darby Mysteries with this finely crafted novel set in London of 1831. Lady Kiera Darby, now pregnant, has returned to London with her new husband, Sebastian Gage. Some members of high society hold her in disregard. As she says, “Among society, it was not so much the truth of the matter, but the appearance of it.” Kiera’s anatomist former husband had her draw pictures of cadavers, some procured by body snatchers, to use at his medical schools. Thus, Kiera carries with her the stigma of having been a party to Sir Anthony’s dissections. Enter Burke and Hale, known bodysnatchers, who are suspected in the murder of a young Italian boy who could not have been older than fourteen. Add that to the growing number of disappearing boys in London, and the town is aghast and fearful. One day she and her husband Gage stumble onto the dead body of the young heir of a wealthy family. She and Gage take on the investigation, only to debate whether it is the work of London bodysnatchers or someone much closer to their circle.

Huber’s detail-filled style draws the reader in. She weaves the life and times of London streets, in addition to the politically charged environment of unrest, into Kiera and Gage’s daily efforts to solve the mystery. She plays out their love story within the context of their compatibility as fellow sleuths. In addition, Huber provides meticulous detail about the furnishings in the great houses, the clothing of both men and women, and the local customs of both rich and poor. Though Gothic in her use of dissection and cadavers, Huber intertwines the theme of love in a most artful way.