The Anatomist's Wife (A Lady Darby Mystery)
by Anna Lee Huber
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425253281
Date: 06 November 2012 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Anatomistís Wife, the debut novel of a new historical mystery series by Anna Lee Huber is a welcome addition to the mystery genre.
Lady Darby, the maligned wife of the deceased anatomist Sir Anthony Darby, already shunned by society, finds herself accused of a gruesome murder. Fearing because of her past, she may be tried and convicted despite her innocence, she sets out to find the killer only to put herself in dire danger.
The period setting, 1830 Scotland, in a gloomy castle provides an eerie backdrop for what appears to be a crime of passion. Lady Godwin was killed and her unborn infant cut from her womb. Because of the remote location, it will take four days for anyone in authority to arrive so the host asks Mr. Sebastian Gage, an inquiry agent, to gather evidence and if possible to find the killer.
The lady had many lovers and several were present at the time of the crime. The setting is a large house party with a variety of guests given by Lady Darby's sister and brother-in-law. Most of the guests dislike Lady Darby and suspect her of the crime.
Because of Lady Darby's knowledge of anatomy, her brother-in-law asked her to assist. Her perspective as an artist and her familiarity with anatomy prove valuable. She is the one who discovers the victim was with child.
The growing closeness of Lady Darby to Gage both fascinates and scares her. Much of the time she is resentful and fears he will ignore her concerns about the motive and the killer. At the same time, she finds her attitude toward him and his abilities changes. She begins to recognize and appreciate his talent and intelligence and also finds herself physically attracted to him.
With plenty of red herrings and distractions, the identity of the murderer will surprise many readers, but the exciting climax will satisfy them. The language suits the period with only a few slips to more modern terms. Overall, the writing, characters, setting, and story provide a satisfying read. The next Lady Darby mystery, Mortal Arts, is scheduled for release in September of 2013.