“A riveting debut…an original premise, an enigmatic heroine, and a compelling Highland setting…a book you won’t want to put down.”—New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn
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…
Anna Lee Huber is the USA Today bestselling and Daphne award-winning author of the Lady Darby Mysteries, the Verity Kent Mysteries, the Gothic Myths series, and the anthology The Deadly Hours. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in music and minored in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana with her family and is hard at work on her next novel. Visit her online at www.annaleehuber.com.
I'm going to be the bad guy here and leave a 2-star review amidst all the 5-star ones that motivated me to read this book in the first place. THE ANATOMIST'S WIFE had such good potential, plot-wise. Murder mystery set in a castle? Check. 1830s Scotland? Yes, please. Unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations at all. The characters were predictable and their speech and actions reminded me too much of a cheesy romance novel. (a side point: any main character who refers to her own hair, in first person narrative, TWICE, as 'my chestnut tresses' just makes my teeth hurt) Another beef I had is that Keira was supposed to be a gentlewoman in the 1830s and while as a widow would not be naive or inexperienced, she came across as way too modern (soooo many references to her eye-rolling) and the male characters were much too open with her of their exploits in 'bedding' various women. (ugh, cringe-worthy stuff...) This is not a prudish issue -- that's a whole other story -- but if I'm reading historical fiction, I expect it to be realistic.
The reason it even got 2 stars from me? Let me redeem it a little and say that the mystery was intriguing enough for me to finish reading, even if certain aspects of it were blindingly obvious when mentioned --
Sometimes I find myself wondering if I'm reading the same book as others, based on such positive reviews and someone saying on Amazon that this was "astoundingly well-written." Not for me, sadly. I think I'm being extra harsh because it had the potential to be great and instead felt like a mildish romance novel with a mystery thrown in.
Alas, another historical detective novel that could have been so good but failed to hit the mark... This one I even told myself I wouldn't like, in the hopes that I would jinx myself and end up with something amazing. There's so many good reviews for it as well! Hell, even Simone St. James rated it 5 stars, and seeing as she's awesome, I thought this book would be great!
Well.... It wasn't. It definitely had a good story and an interesting main character, but it fell down on historical accuracy and characterisation.
I feel as if this book should have been set about a hundred years after it was- so in 1930, not 1830. I think the author perhaps found her "interesting historical facts" (as she says in her author's note) and worked the story to fit around those, rather than the other way around.
The attitudes of the party guests towards sex were far, far too modern. This is set in Georgian England, a time far less straight laced than the Victorian era immediately afterwards, but I still struggle to believe that the sex and other matters so openly discussed in this book would have been acceptable in the Upper Class. It would absolutely never have been acceptable for a gentleman to be alone in a lady's bedroom at night. No way, nuh uh.
I also spotted a fair few anachronisms that really make me wonder how much research the author did before writing this book. Just to mention a few, the names of the protagonist and her sister are 20th Century, as is headache powder. This, along with a few others, plus linguistic anachronisms, really, really bugged me.
Not to mention, last I checked, Scotland is entirely devoid of racoons. Perhaps she meant wild haggis?
So totally legit.
I think what bothers me most about this is that this could have been a really good book. It has the bones of a good book there, but the flesh just wasn't right. The execution was poor and the writing made me cringe, but the story was good enough to keep me going until the end.
Perhaps if the author had set the book in 1930 it would have worked, but even that is pushing it. Lady Darby's reactions and opinions are far too modern to be believable in her setting. The rest of the cast of characters read like caricatures of what 21st century (*cough* American *cough*) people think about the British aristocracy. I ended up checking the nationality of the author and wasn't surprised to find she is American... I don't mean that as a bad thing against her, but I definitely think she's played into the modern stereotyped British character tropes.
Speaking of tropes, this book unfortunately ends on the classic "Damsel Walks Headlong Into Obvious Trap and Needs Saving By Male Love Interest" trope. Not a fan, especially when the heroine is meant to be so clever. I was reading this for pure escapism, but the problems made the escaping a bit more difficult than it needed to be. It's such a pity, as it really did seem like something I would really enjoy. Also, I quite like the cover, which is a bit silly but it's true!
I'm honestly surprised by all the good reviews for this book. Perhaps I'm being overly picky, but it just really, really wasn't up there with the best (or even middle) of it's genre. Perhaps it is first book syndrome, but it definitely doesn't make me want to pick up the next in the series. Someone needs to give the author a few good history books, books about British speech and ecology, perhaps a few good classics of the period and take away her thesaurus.
May 2012: Four stars -----------------------------------------------------
Started re-reading on April 16, 2018, to remind me of the particulars, before catching up with the series...
4/21/18 Almost finished my second read of this book, and unfortunately not as pleased as I was the first time around. Still an interesting historical mystery, but the characters have a bit less depth than I remembered. I like the setting in 1830s Scotland... but I'm noticing dialogue with anachronistic phrases. This is irritating me, but might not bother others. Lots of twists and details in the murder plot... but maybe 50% mystery and 50% romance. I hadn't remembered that much romance. Changing my mind, and considering this one as more of a three star book. I'd still like to continue the series, though.
4/29/18 - Finished my second reading, six years after the first go. The last quarter was heavy on the romance (which is fine, if that's what you're looking for), but light on any clues about the murder. A great deal of the sleuthing took place inside the main characters' heads, and without access to our protagonists' thoughts readers were left wondering, with very little to go on. The murder resolution was very dramatic, but by the book's conclusion, our reluctant (and ambivalent, and shrinking violet) heroine, "the anatomist's wife" herself, has begun rather illogically to think of herself as somewhat of a super-detective. She desires praise and accolades - and is perturbed when she does not receive them. However, despite some frustrations with the plot (and anachronisms), the writing quality is very good, the story is fast-paced, and the characters are interesting. 3 firm stars.
No expectations going into this one and I absolutely had so much fun with it! I can see this series quickly becoming a favorite. I loved the mystery, the setting and all of the characters. I can't wait for more!
I enjoyed this rather dark mystery with a fabulous balance of grittiness and engaging characters. I felt like I really got to know Kiera, Lady Darby well, but there is still more to learn about her and I'm excited for the next phase of her life. Not to mention the mystery of Gage! I can't wait to find out more about him and his past. I'm reading the next book immediately!
Can someone please explain why it took me so long to read Anna Lee Huber's The Anatomist's Wife? I'm trying to come up an excuse, an amazing alibi that would explain such an egregious oversight, but I've got nothing. You know, besides a tbr list that is fast approaching the three thousand mark and really, who doesn't have one of those?
In stark contrast to the myriad of atypical heroines that plague this genre, Kiera isn't an overly progressive liberal, striving to prove herself in a male dominated society. In point of fact she is a bit of a recluse who prefers the quiet solitude of her studio to the more communal pastimes of her peers. Existing on the social fringe, she stands out from the crowd, but her personality and character are not so outlandish that she feels inappropriate to the period in which her story takes place.
The relationship between Kiera and Sebastian also held a lot of appeal. Evolving slowly, their burgeoning attraction feels authentic and natural. Present almost from the start, it grows stronger as the story progresses, but never overwhelms the narrative or takes away from the mystery at the heart of the novel.
A master in the art of misdirection, Huber offers up just the right amount of detail, steering her readers first one way, then another, bringing them ever closer to the culprit without divulging her antagonist's identity until the final chapters of the narrative. Unfortunately, her ability to keep me guessing was undermined by a weak and overly elaborate resolution. Maybe I'm alone in this, but this is one of those instances in which I genuinely feel less would have been more.
Reminiscent of Carol K. Carr, Deanna Raybourn, Tasha Alexander and Amanda Quick, Huber's work is both intriguing and entertaining. Ultimately less convincing than I wanted, but a promising debut just the same.
A good enough book...likable characters, some mystery. But it was impossible to care even one fig about the murder victim. At the end of the book, the murder is solved, but the love interest was unrequited and strung out to the next book, and Lady Darby is still being shunned by society for the sins of her dead husband. That meant to me that there wasn't much point to the story. The protagonists (both male and female) needed to be a lot more compelling to overcome the general ho-hum of the plot.
Also, why is it that so many women detectives (both amateur and professional) go to such lengths to prove they are as smart as men by putting themselves in such severe physical danger that they must be rescued by a big strong man for their stupidity? Why does just as smart as men always have to mean just as strong, just as large, and just as skilled with weapons? That's just silly...
I already enjoyed the author's Verity Kent series so I thought it was high time I returned for her debut historical mystery series set in 1830 with an unusual lady detective facing her first murder in at an atmospheric castle in the Highlands.
The Anatomist's Wife opens with a gruesome murder and the introduction to Kiera, Lady Darby, whom everyone whispers about in lurid details because she is the unnatural female who was discovered to have participated in her husband's anatomy activities as his illustrator. Kiera was cleared of any illegal activities, but damned in society so that she has hidden away the sixteen months since her husband's death. Now, her sanctuary at her brother in law's castle home has been invaded, first, by a house party, and next by the murder of one of them. Kiera has the unenviable joy of being both suspect and the assistant to Sebastian Gage the investigator.
Kiera felt antagonism for Gage from the start because of his handsome looks and rakish flirting and ways with the ladies. She privately worries he isn't up to the task when they set out on their inquiries, but soon sees there are many facets to this man who takes her seriously and heeds her observations. But, the killer is among them and doesn't want to be found causing Kiera to peer into every shadow and wonder if she might be next.
I was hooked from page one into the story which started with a vicious killing and a woman emerges as this tantalizing bad girl, shunned by guests who are titillated to speculate about her. The author established this series as remarkable right there in the first chapter of the debut book. I think I was fangirling both Kiera and Gage along with Philip and Alanna, Kiera's family right from their opening scenes, too. I already was drawn to the book because of it being a historical mystery, but the author took my anticipation and gave me so much more.
The time period was interesting as it is the transition from Regency to Victorian periods. I loved the interests of Kiera's art, her understanding of anatomy, and Gage's knowledge of investigation were placed beside Scottish and English society and manners.
The mystery was dark and twisting. I didn't catch on until pretty much when Kiera did so I had all the surprises along the way. The partnering of Kiera and Gage had good chemistry as they both respected and antagonized each other in their turn. This carried over into the glimmers of a romance that looks to develop through the series.
I ended up enjoying this book in both paperback and audio edition because I swapped back and forth. Heather Wilds was a superb narrator and delivered the story so that the atmosphere, tension, and emotions as well as the cast of characters came alive for me. Her Scottish accent was a decent effort though I think the book was shy on Scottish turns of phrase, too.
All in all, I thought this was abso-fab and can't wait to press forward to the next installment. Those who appreciate a good atmospheric, character-driven historical mystery should definitely pick this up.
Update: Got an Arc for book #11 (my first one ever) so, of course, I have to reread the series once again.
I love this series but I did not mean to reread it so soon, but the new one comes out in only a few days and I need this to fill the void as I wait for it. I love Kiera and Gage they are easily one of my favorite couples. I am someone who only reads mystery series for the characters and not the actual mystery, not that that doesn't interest me while I'm reading it, I am mostly just there for the characters.
When Lady Darby's husband, an anatomist, dies she goes to live with her sister and brother-in-law at their castle in the Scottish Highlands. This is 1830 and Lady Darby is now a social outcast, considered unnatural, because her husband forced her to assist in his human dissections, using her talents as an artist to help him create a fully illustrated anatomy book.
After a guest is murdered during a house party, Lady Darby is asked to assist Sebastian Gage, an inquiry agent, in the investigation. The other guests consider Lady Darby to be guilty of the murder, believing her to be a female version of Burke and Hare, the notorious murderers who supplied corpses to anatomists in Edinburgh. In an effort to prove her innocence she reluctantly agrees to help Gage find the killer.
This book is a winner. Gothic castle, gruesome murder, and plenty of suspense. The author knows how to set a mood, create a sense of time and place, and pull you in. The characters are well drawn, especially the nasty ones! I found myself outraged at times, wanting to administer a swift kick in the backside to some particularly loathsome person. On the other hand, I was really rooting for Lady Darby. Her fear, loneliness and isolation are palpable throughout the book, I couldn't help feeling sorry for her.
There was only one character that didn't work for me, Sebastian Gage. I thought he was arrogant, domineering and not nearly as clever as he thinks he is.
"I turned to march out of the library, but he grabbed my arm to stop me"
Later in the same scene he squeezes her arm while pressuring her to make a promise. Stop grabbing and squeezing to impose your will on others! Also, don't enter a ladies bedroom without asking first. Gage is described as handsome but his personality leaves a great deal to be desired. I'm hoping he improves in the later books.
One thing needs to be corrected (maybe it has been in later editions), in my paperback version it mentions raccoons. Raccoons are native to North America and are not found in the wild in Scotland. There were some escapees from a zoo a couple of years ago, but they were caught and returned to captivity as it's believed they would be destructive to native wildlife.
I'm sorry that I didn't know about this series when it began in 2012, but coming in on it later means that there are four more books in the series completed, just waiting to be gobbled up.
Lady Darby (Keira) has had a difficult time since her father arranged a marriage for her to an anatomist. Her husband was a jackass of epic proportions. AND he sucked in bed! Since his death she has had to withdraw from society (not that she cares). They vilified her for her sketching her husband's dismembered bodies, even though she hadn't been given a choice. She stays with her sister and brother-in-law where they are having a house party when one of the guests is murdered. Because of her knowledge of anatomy she ends up helping another of the guests who has been working with his father as a detective of sorts. Gabe, the sorta detective, is a bit of a ladies man which was kinda icky. But there really isn't any OW stuff in the book. He isn't sure what to think of her at first and she has her own preconceived ideas of what kind of man Gabe is. But they are both rational people and don't make snap judgments. Kiera doesn't realize she's falling in love for most of the book. She's never been courted and her marriage was arranged by her father. The husband was the antithesis of romantic!
The mystery is good, but i did guess the culprit about 2/3 in. I still enjoyed it and look forward to reading/listening to the next one and onwards.
Towards the end we learn that Gabe has secrets and I will have to read the next one to find out more. Safety is good
This series was recommended to me by cousin few years ago, but I never got the chance to read it. And now that I have started with the first in the series, I'm happy to say the series looks promising.
Anna Lee Huber has created a likable and unorthodox heroine for the series. The character of Lady Darby is solid and realistic. She is intelligent and talented and reasonable. I was able to connect with her from the beginning. The hero of the series, the attractive inquiry agent, Sebastian Gage is quite a contrast to the heroine, Lady Darby. Whereas the heroine is a sort of an introvert, the hero is charming and outgoing. And of course there is opposite attraction between the two and I sense budding romance which will probably be worked out on next installments.
The murder-mystery was worked on a good plot and although it is not complicated and at times it was easy to guess the culprit, the author drives at some twists and turns till the end. I enjoyed the read and even more enjoyed the characters, especially the main duo. I think they will be another enjoyable couple in the historical mysteries genre.
I have read two other series (Lady Julia Grey series and Lady Emily series) of this genre set up in 19th century England. But when compared, Lady Darby series seems to have more potential. I hope I won't be disappointed.
After reading Anne Lee Huber’s novel Secrets in the Mist, I realized how desperate I was for another Gothic romance novel. I wasn’t really up for a murder mystery but everyone raved about Huber’s Lady Darby mysteries so I thought I would try out her well known mysteries that boast Gothic elements and romance.
The Anatomist’s Wife was on my radar years ago when it released and I recall trying desperately to win a copy when it was published. I obviously didn’t win a copy, but I did try very aggressively for days. Then of course I moved on to some other novels only to have this one resurface again on my radar.
So I devoured this book in a matter of days. This book was more mystery than Gothic romance but that was fine by me. I loved the odd nature of Kiera’s marriage to Sir Anthony and how she was shunned by society to the extreme. I loved Kiera’s attitude…..a spicy little thing and I loved that! Her wit and tart responses to the frustrating Gage were endearing and at times made me laugh out loud from how perfect they were. The one that stands out in my mind is when she reveals herself in the library to Gage after questioning a suspect. I died laughing at her retort. From that moment on, I loved her and knew I would be reading this whole series in rapid succession.
The mystery was equal parts dark and unthinkable. I loved the red herrings and twists in the plot with the end culminating in a climax that was cultivated for just the right amount of time for readers.
But it wasn’t Kiera and the mystery that completely hooked me…it was the chemistry between Kiera and Gage that made me LOVE this book. At times, I wasn’t entirely convinced that Gage cared for Kiera to the degree that the author wasn’t us to believe….likewise, I thought Kiera was uncharacteristically taken with Gage and it didn’t make sense. That said…..I didn’t care in the least. I thought Gage was charming and sexy in his own right and it was clear that he was at the least attracted to Kiera but I didn’t get the same tormented love interest that I think was being implied in this book. Kiera acknowledged Gage’s good looks and easy manners and that she liked him more than she was willing to admit and it was easy to believe her at least in that regard…..however, Kiera was seemingly so put off by men from her marriage to Sir Anthony that I felt like she needed a little more ‘winning over’ from Gage than we got in this book for it to be believable.
However, as I said, I didn’t care one wit if their individual feelings needed more development because when you got them together in the story, it was the perfect fit not just for romantic inclinations but for a true detective partnership. I suppose thinking back, it’s fitting that their relationship isn’t all brooding and moody in the first book because they are just getting used to the idea of each other…..and I fully expect to see more in this regard in later books.
I loved Kiera and Gage together….they worked so well together. Each had their flaws as characters and I loved watching them try to work together……rather successfully I might add. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a series whose two main characters captivate me in both a romantic sense and a detecting sense….I loved this book! I can’t believe it took me this long to read it!
“We all must deal with our shadows the best we can. No one can conquer them for us.”
As if often the case these days, this novel had waited for my attention for quite a while. And again, as is often the case, I got completely immersed in this story :O)
Lady Darby is a fascinating character, one that has suffered at the hands of her late husband and society’s wrongful judgement, but who is determined to re-build herself, mostly through her painting. Circumstances throw her into using her knowledge of human anatomy and to partner up with the insufferable Sebastian Gage, an inquiry agent, to solve a murder that threatens her home.
The case is an interesting one and Huber paints a very Gothic tale, set in a Scottish castle, full of suspense, that is compelling. Kiera however steals the show with her narration, switching between the events at hand and her horrible past experiences. Her partnering with Gage is fraught with difficulties too and not just because he is arrogant and domineering. There is more there than meets the eye. I really like that the author made him fallible, which is not something I’ve seen often in this type of story. It gives him to opportunity to learn and grow, but I gather this will be in the next instalment, which I’m starting right now!
At AudioGals, I've given this an A- for content but the C+ for the narration pulls the grade down a bit and I'm leaving it at 4 stars for the AUDIOBOOK version.
It’s possible that I may have squealed with delight when I learned that Anna Lee Huber’s series of historical mysteries featuring Lady Keira Darby were being released as audiobooks. The books themselves (there are three so far; The Anatomist’s Wife is first in the series) have all proved to be highly entertaining, well-constructed tales featuring an engaging heroine, a gorgeous hero and a delicious slow-burning romance which has developed slowly but surely across all of the stories.
The widow of a renowned surgeon and anatomist, reclusive artist Lady Keira Darby was thrust into the limelight in the most unpleasant way following her husband’s death. A much older man, Sir Anthony Darby married Keira with the sole intention of putting her artistic skills to use by forcing her to illustrate the book on anatomy he was writing – simply because he was far too tight-fisted to pay someone to do the job.
The exposure of her involvement in the project led to Keira being branded as “unnatural” and shunned by society at large, the worst gossip painting her as an evil woman who trawled the streets looking for likely subjects for experimentation. That might seem rather a leap, but when one considers that these stories take place just a short time after the discovery of the shocking activities undertaken by Burke and Hare, and all the sensationalist stories and scandal that surrounded them, it’s perhaps not so difficult to understand the impetus behind such lurid accusations.
In the sixteen months since her husband’s death, Keira has lived quietly with her sister and brother-in-law, the Earl and Countess of Cromarty, at their remote residence of Gairloch. But when, during a house-party, one of the guests is found murdered, many of the other guests are only too willing to point the finger of suspicion at the woman dubbed “The Butcher’s Wife” and “The Sawbones’ Siren”.
With the necessary authorities several days ride away, the earl asks one of his guests, Mr Sebastian Gage, the son of a renowned military officer and inquiry agent, to begin his own investigation into the murder. Keira doesn’t like what she’s seen of the handsome and charming Mr Gage – he’s too handsome, too charming and too often surrounded by hoards of women who are only too eager to throw themselves at his feet and into his bed. But when her brother-in-law also requests her help – her knowledge of anatomy may enable her to assist in the investigation – the unlikely pair reluctantly agrees to work together until the authorities arrive.
Gage isn’t wild about the idea of having someone assist him, and Keira is hard-pressed to hide her dislike. But as the book progresses, the two begin to make discoveries about each other, as well as discoveries relating to the murder; Keira realises that there’s much more to Gage than a pretty face, and he comes to value her insight and her keen powers of observation.
I honestly want to read it a third time. I just cannot get enough of Kiera and Gage. This was so much fun to read. I loved all the little things hinted at that are revealed later and the murder mystery was really good as well. I disagree with some of my opinions I had made back in 2014, but I didn't feel for this seriesback then the way I feel for it now.
Ratings: 2.5/5 I'm a sucker for murder mysteries where the investigator and an individual related to the mystery form an alliance (with potential for more). Add to that the 19th century time period in Scotland and I couldn't wait to read the book.
Imagine my disappointment when the story line was not as complex as I had hoped, the characters were predictable (I guessed the murderer quite early), no relevance to Scotland (the entire book took place in a castle and its surrounding areas, it might as well have been anywhere else in the world and I wouldn't have cared any less) the interactions far too modern and easy going for me (for a second I thought it was contemporary fiction), and an unconvincing development of feelings of the heroine for the hero made it a somewhat boring read with me not really reading but trying to get to the end asap.
Still, I have not given up hope. I want to read the sequel and see how the author has improved.
EDIT: I think the one thing that distracted me most was the fact I could not figure out how to pronounce the word: Gage. Is it gauge or gaig?
EDIT # 2: And why was it that I ended up calling calling the heroine Darcy instead of Darby? Actually, I thought Kiera was a strange name for someone in the 19th century. Maybe it was popular and I just never read a book in which it was used. It seems like a name someone would have nowadays.
This was a great book! I whizzed through it in no time (always sign of being sucked into a good story), and absolutely can't wait for the next one. It was very similar to the Lady Julia Grey books by Deanna Raybourn, which I also love, but the heroine, in particular, is a very different type of person than in Lady Julia.
In choosing this particular heroine, the author has a really interesting character. She is considered extremely eccentric by the standards of her time. However, her eccentricities are extremely accessible for the reader, but it doesn't make her seem "too modern", but rather realistic instead. The hero remains more of a mystery, which worked well for me. I'm glad that we were able to spend so much time getting to know the heroine in this book. The rest of the series can tell us more about the fascinating Mr. Gage.
The plot itself is really very good. I did guess who the baddie was before the end, but not without 15 seconds of the murder happening, and the murder itself, the setting, the backstory, the characters, all make for a great read.
I highly recommend this one. 5 stars. It was amazing, and I can't believe it was a debut...
I truly enjoyed following this mystery to its close. Yes, I guessed who the killer was at about the halfway point, but the character development drew me on to the close. I also really enjoyed the Scottish setting. An excellent book for a debut.
*18+ for occasional strong language and for mentions (not descriptions) of affairs/bedding/child out of wedlock
It was exciting at the beginning but dulled once I figured out who the likely murderer is. While, Darby and Gage had to run around in circles for another 25 chapters to resolve the mystery. I liked the idea of Darby and Gage alot but the plot was rather weak and silly. Hoping the series improves.
Kiera, aka Lady Darby, is a young widow who is still feeling the repercussions of a less than ideal marriage. As an artist Lady Darby had been forced by her cold and indifferent husband, a surgeon, to sketch the human dissections he performed with the goal of publishing an anatomy book. Seems pretty reasonable to modern minds but this all happened in 1830s Scotland during a time when surgery and autopsies were considered unnatural, moreso for women. And so it is for Lady Darby who now finds herself the target of much suspicion and hate, labeled everything from a witch to a ghoul to a murderess. For the 16 months since her husband's death, she has fled London life to basically hide out at the Scotland estate of her sister and brother-in-law, the Earl of Cromarty. But when the murder of a noble lady happens on the grounds, Kiera finds herself once again in the spotlight.
I enjoyed this book and though I didn't really get any sense of Scotland as a setting the characters and the murder itself were interesting. Kiera made for a nice heroine and even though she did one or two things that were quite foolhardy, she was nevertheless mostly practical. Sebastian Gage is the love interest and also the man Kiera is tasked with assisting in the murder investigation, due to her experience with corpses and death. Things never got too schmoopy between the two and it's probably more fair to say that there are romantic elements in this story as I think any true advancement in the romance department will happen in later books, if at all. Which, if it happens, is the slow boil that I much prefer.
I was surprised to find this book on my Kindle yesterday. It seems o recommend it for purchase to the Meridian Library and they purchase it. I was the lucky person to receive the book. It is the first book in the popular Lady Darby series. Set in1830 in Scotland and there are a mystery and romance. The plot is unique but I had questions about some of the procedures. It did not take away my enjoyment. I want to read the next one but have a number of ARC's to read. My book mania is in full bloom right now. Lady Darby's husband has passed away. Kiera is an artist and her father selected her husband who insisted that she do the illustrations for his book on anatomy. On his death, false rumors are circulated about Lady Darby's character. Her brother and her sister's husband, Lord Coutmarcy managed to quash the rumors. She is living with her sister in Scotland. At a house party, a lady is found murder and the time to get a procurator fiscal to handle case will be four days. No one can leave until an arrest is made. Phillip, Lord Coutmarcy asked Sebastian Gage to investigate and Lady Darby because of her knowledge of anatomy. The twists and turns this book takes will hold you enthralled until the end. Did this unlikely pair find the killer? I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK.
I'm dnfing this without rating because the problem is entirely the narrator. The weighty, plodding delivery is making for odd emphasis and stepping on some delightful subtlety. Which pulls me completely out of the story and is making me angry at the book. It doesn't deserve an angry read so I'll see about acquiring a version I have to actually read.
I have Allison over at The Allure of Books to thank for this recommendation. I believe I had heard the title of this Victorian mystery bandied about some and never did chase it down on account of the title itself. Something to do with a proliferation of the so-and-so's wife titles at the time, I would imagine. But. I'm so very glad I listened to Allie and gave it a shot. Anna Lee Huber's series (which stands at three novels at the present time with a fourth due out this summer) is excellent. As you might have guessed, this series is a straight shot for you Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander fans out there. While the Lady Julia Grey series is a touch more dramatic and the Lady Emily Ashton one quite a bit lighter, Kiera Darby is compelling entirely on her own merits and I can't wait to further my exploits with her in future installments.
Lady Kiera Darby wants only to hide away and lick her wounds. Gone to her sister's estate in Scotland to recuperate from the tumultuous events of her husband's death and her own criminal trial, Kiera takes refuge in her painting and in the satisfactory distance she's finally put between herself and the prying eyes of London society. Unfortunately, her well-meaning sister and brother-in-law have planned a house party and invited some of the very elite members of society she so longs to escape. Knowing what they think of her and her role (albeit unwilling) in her husband's distasteful profession, each day becomes an endless struggle. But when a murder takes place on the premises, Kiera's skill is called upon by private inquiry agent Sebastian Gage. At first put off by Gage's somewhat pedestrian talent and clear suspicion of her, Lady Darby is reluctant to pursue the increasingly disturbing events at the estate. But determined to prove her own innocence, she concedes to work with Gage and the two fall into a competent and intriguing partnership.
How I love Kiera. I love that the story opens after the horrible spectacle has taken place. The whole opening has an exhausted, almost gun shy feel to it as we come to know Kiera and gradually find out just what led to her ostracizing from society and the slow death she suffered at the hands of the most indifferent and cruel of husbands. The entirety of The Anatomist's Wife is quiet. In the best sense. Quietly affecting. Quietly horrific. Quietly strong and hopeful. I was immediately fond of it and its occupants. Which brings us to Gage. I found him engaging (forgive me) from the beginning, though he does initially come off a bit of the fop to both Kiera and the reader. While unerringly confident, he doesn't ooze brooding arrogance in quite the same way that others of his ilk do. I wasn't sure which way the wind would blow with Gage. But I appreciated the healthy dose of skepticism that flourished between he and Kiera. And I unquestionably relished the accompanying slow, slow burn as their eyes were opened to how effective they could be as an investigative team, as well as how close they were growing as friends. Such partners they were. Such kindred spirits. I am with them. To the end.
Where I got the book: purchased at indie bookstore at an author event. Signed. I know Anna Lee Huber in person.
I enjoy the historical mystery sub-genre, and I'd place this book in company with Tasha Alexander's or Lauren Willis's; a fairly fluffy, enjoyable escapist read. I say "fairly fluffy" because Huber has given her heroine, Lady Keira Darby, a darker background than most; her late husband was an anatomist who married her for her artistic skills and then obliged her to make drawings of the cadavers he was dissecting.
With the recent uproar over Burke and Hare's business of providing themselves with bodies to sell by the simple expedient of killing them, Keira's experiences have left her with traumatic memories of a trial and social scandal, and she is hiding away at her brother-in-law's castle in Scotland. During a house party one of the guests is murdered and rather insensitively her brother-in-law offers her help with the investigation on the grounds that she's used to bodies. But she doesn't get to investigate alone; she's partnered up with one Sebastian Gage, a sort of amateur sleuth who, realistically enough for an 1830 setting, takes charge of the case. Naturally, sparks fly.
1830 falls into that weird trough of history between the Regency and the accession of Queen Victoria, when the Industrial Revolution was just starting to get going but otherwise more seemed to be happening outside Britain than inside it. Perhaps it's for that reason that I had trouble grasping a sense of the time period; the setting of the novel seemed vaguely Victorian rather than specific to a decade, except that I'm not sure Victorians would have been quite so open about their bed-swapping habits. Also I found that the characters often sounded fairly modern, but that's the historical fiction writer's constant dilemma; you can sound like yourself or you can try to sound like Jane Austen or Mrs. Gaskell and fail...
I also noted in passing some errors that should have been caught in editing, the French phrases in particular. But those minor matters didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story, which was considerable. I liked the main characters very much, Keira especially (apart from the name, I can't STAND Keira Knightley, but I digress) because of the depth provided by her backstory, her artistic talent, and her combination of bravery and femininity. I'm hoping that Gage's background will be more fully developed in the next book, and I'm a little sorry that the action is all seen from Keira's point of view because such lively writing cries out for a dual POV to complicate the action. I enjoyed the fast-moving plot and found the mystery sufficiently intriguing to keep me interested as it moved through the progression of clues and accounts by possible suspects.
The novel ends with a blatant come-on for the next book but I was OK with that; for one thing I'd already bought the next book (support your local indie bookstore, people!) and for another it was obvious from the outset that this was going to be a series. I'm looking forward to the next one; I'm engaged by the characters and want to know more. Recommended as an easy read with a little extra depth.
Lady Kiera Darby is a social outcast due to the revelation that she assisted her deceased husband in his anatomical dissections. Thus, when Lady Godwin is found murdered during a house party at the ancestral home of Kiera’s brother-in-law, suspicion naturally falls on her and she must make use of her knowledge of the human body to clear her name.
A well-paced mystery with an engaging protagonist and some intriguing hints at a romance to come.
Kiera is a particularly likable heroine as she is highly intelligent and in possession of a quiet strength and resilience that is very appealing. The manner in which she deals with society’s ignorant prejudices and hypocrisy, with honor and dignity, makes it impossible not to empathize with her predicament. She also grows in confidence as the story progresses and approaches every situation in a practical manner with no TSTL moments.
Kiera’s investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, is slightly more ambiguous with his rakish ways, and as the narrative is in the first person, it is never clear what his thoughts and feelings for Kiera are. Nevertheless, there is some intense sexual tension between the two and it will be interesting to see where this goes in future installments.
The mystery is well developed albeit a bit more detailed in the gruesome description department than other historical mysteries such as the Bess Crawford and Lady Julia series. The investigation unfolds at a solid pace (which is actually better than in the Lady Julia books) and the climax and resolution are exciting. While there is an abundance of suspects, it is rather easy to spot the culprit although the motive is more complex and diabolical.
Heather Wilds narration is very good. Her reading pace is more rapid than many other narrators, but she speaks clearly and there is no need to slow the speed. Nevertheless, her voices are not as distinct as they could have been, especially for the men but that's not a deal breaker.
Highly recommended for fans of the Lady Julia series by Deanna Raybourn.