Series: Lady Darby Mystery #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Date Published: 2012
Genres: Historical, Literary, Mystery & Detective, Science Fiction, Women Sleuths
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 44 minutes
Audiobook Narrator: Heather Wilds
Description: Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister's estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes. Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage - a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn't about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl. When Kiera and Gage's search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim . . . 'A riveting debut . . . an original premise, an enigmatic heroine, and a compelling Highland setting . . . a book you won't want to put down.' Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey novels 'Lady Darby is an engaging new sleuth to follow . . . A history mystery in fine Victorian style!' Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author' A fast-paced, atmospheric and chilling debut featuring a clever heroine with a shocking past and a talent for detection. I'm already anticipating Lady Darby's next adventure.' Carol K. Carr, national bestselling author of India Black and the Widow of Windsor'An unusual and romantic heroine, haunted by a deadly past and trying to be herself in a society that wants to silence her - and worse.' Judith Rock, author of A Plague of Lies' Huber's protagonist is complex and likable and the well-lotted mystery is filled with fascinating secondary characters. The setting is lavishly portrayed . . . you'll be engaged right to the end.' RT Book Reviews
I once watched an interview with an actor discussing character shipping. The basic gist of the interview was this: We (readers, or in this case, watchers of TV shows) don’t want couples to actually get together. What we want is the prospect of a couple getting together. The flirting. The foreplay. Once the couple gets together, we become bored at the loss of the spark that drew us in. Think Moonlighting here. I think this accurately describes what I enjoyed most about The Anatomist’s Wife – the flirty, witty, banter between the two main characters, Lady Darby, and Mr. Gage.
The set up: Lady Kiera Darby has escaped London society, and the gossip and speculation of her husband’s death, to her sister’s home in the Scottish highlands. Like a game of Clue, a murder occurs with a house full of guests. And Lady Darby is asked to assist Gage in solving the crime. Reluctantly, she agrees. Solving the murder drives the plot. But it’s the back and forth between Kiera and Gage that kept me rivited.
The audio: The narration of The Anatomist’s Wife was amazing. Seriously. If you listen to audio books, check this one out. Warming and smooth like scotch. Amazing with all of the different voices of the characters. Including different iterations of the Scottish brogue. I will definitely be checking out other works by Ms. Wilds. I think her reading of the phone book would be interesting.
The characters: All the accolades go to Ms. Huber for developing such rich characters. Kiera Darby is a main character I think I could easily spend time with. An artist. An intellectual. And not in the least interested in society. And each time the nasty women at the house party deride her character for something that was not her own doing, I felt the sting myself. Sebastian Gage is a self-proclaimed rake. A flirt. A man who women “twitter” and fawn over. The son of an investigator, Gage inherited the knack for solving crimes. Most fittingly, he doesn’t judge Kiera. He accepts that she is an intelligent woman, and that her knowledge will help solve the murder. On the difference between a rogue and a rake:
I’m not a rogue, Lady Darby. I’m a rakehell. … A rogue implies that one is a scoundrel. A villain. Taking what he should not and shirking the law and his duty. A rakehell may be debauched in the intimate sense, jumping from skirt to skirt. But never where it is unwanted. And never with an innocent.
And this double entendre discussing not wearing gloves while fencing:
I like to feel the sword against my skin. It gives me a better grip.
I think I blushed while listening! Along with the rest of the fawning women, I was seriously in love with Gage at this point, which was only halfway through the book.
My only issue: I figured out who the murderer was pretty early on. It seemed pretty obvious. But that was a minor flaw in an otherwise stunning book.
My overall assessment: Check this book out. If you like historical novels. Murder-mysteries. Witty, flirty banter. And sexy rakes. And definitely check out the audio. It’s free on hoopla! And if your library isn’t on hoopla, start petitioning!