Scotland 1832. After enjoying a delightful holiday with her family, Lady Kiera Darby is looking forward to finishing her new friend, the Duchess of Bowmont’s portrait, as well as attending the duchess’ annual Twelfth Night party. Though she normally avoids such fashionable events, Kiera trusts the attention will not be focused on her, but rather her notorious hostess and her family. But upon their arrival at the opulent Scottish estate, Kiera and her husband and fellow investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, swiftly deduce that all is not merry in the duke’s household. The family appears to be under a great strain, and someone seems determined to cause mayhem among the guests with a series of forged notes.
However, matters swiftly turn from irksome to downright deadly when the merrymakers stumble upon a decomposing body in the castle’s crypt. This corpse is certainly no laughing matter, especially when it is identified as the duchess’ son-in-law, the Earl of Helmsdale, who had purportedly traveled to Paris more than a month earlier. It is evident the man met with foul play, and Kiera and Gage step in to investigate, at the duchess’ insistence. Kiera and Gage must swiftly reexamine the facts, for a ruthless murderer walks among them and may well be a member of the duchess’ own family. Kiera soon discovers just how deep the killer is willing to dig to keep their secrets from ever seeing the light of day.
Review of A Stoke of Malice
The latest book in one of my favorite historical mystery series reminds me of the very first Lady Darby Mystery, The Anatomists Wife. The two books have in common a country manor, a house party and a murder.
I’ve always like the country manor setting for a mystery. In A Stroke of Malice, it is not necessarily a locked room mystery, because the murder happened before the party even started. But one assumes that all the pertinent suspects are present.
And there are plenty of suspects. The Duchess has a large family with many connections that may or many not make them suspects. In their usual discreet yet insistent investigative manor, Kiera and Gage sift through the family members and all their possible connections. You will want to pay attention, there are many suspects!
Through the 8 books of this series, I have come to love Kiera. Due to her past, she is can be plagued with self-doubt and fear, but her intelligence, courage, and tenderness help her overcome and make her special. Gage supports his wife in her unorthodox activities, making him just as lovable. I also appreciate the author’s historical research, providing details and dialog that take me back in time.
Anna Lee Huber shines again, giving us suspense, romance, history and heart in A Stroke of Malice.
Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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