As Death Draws Near

Written by Anna Lee Huber
Review by Judith Starkston

As Death Draws Near, set in 1831 in England and Ireland, is the fifth (or sixth if you count a novella) in Huber’s Lady Darby mystery series. The romantic strand of this series finds Lady Darby (Kiera) now married to Sebastian Gage, the handsome and brilliant inquiry agent she has helped in the past, frequently to her great danger. The chemistry continues between them, along with Kiera’s new worries about what being Sebastian’s wife and a future mother means for her choice of activities and intellectual pursuits.

A cryptic letter from Gage’s imperious father interrupts their honeymoon and propels them off to Ireland to investigate the murder of a nun who happens to be cousin to the Duke of Wellington. Why anyone would kill a quiet and dutiful postulant is not at all clear to Gage and Kiera, even if her family is dismayed at her conversion to Catholicism. Soon threats of violence arising from the political conflict between Irish Catholics and Protestants swirl around Gage and Kiera. The murderer kills another nun. Is the tithe protest that is supposed to be peaceful the motivation for these deaths or is some personal heartbreak behind these brutal murders?

Kiera’s character grows in believable and engaging ways. The subplots with her maid Bree and the Abbey inhabitants are suspenseful and rich. There are enough twists and surprises to keep the reader turning pages. Irish history and legend add depth without being confusing or obscure.