Book Review | “A Grave Matter” (#LadyDarby, No.3) by Anna Lee Huber

Posted Friday, 8 July, 2016 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Borrowed Book By: My local library has always been quite keenly astute on forthcoming releases by authors whose books wink at me from the card catalogue, whenever I am seeking a new read within a genre I happen to have a penchant attachment. Cosy mysteries have always been knitted into my heart, and although I honestly cannot remember exactly if the library purchased the Lady Darby book series off a request of mine OR if they were requested by another patron, all I can simply say is that I felt immeasurably blessed that the first two novels of the Lady Darby mysteries were at my library! I did make enquiries on behalf of this series to be continued to be added to the library as forthcoming titles release henceforth forward!

As this series is a part of a personal quest to read Serial Fiction Library Finds, I was not compensated for this review nor was I obliged to share my thoughts on behalf of this novel or the Lady Darby Mysteries.

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On how we left Lady Darby & Mr Gage in Mortal Arts:

I believe, dear hearts, you’ve caught enough of a glimpse between my tweets in regards to this series, and my reviews as they are releasing throughout the week I’m spending inside #LadyDarby’s world – to recognise the series lit a flame of joy for me to devour! It is directly related to Lady Darby & Mr Gage, as I had such a lot of pleasure of declaring within the folds of this tweet! Such a beautiful journey where hearts are starting to heal, reconciliation of the past is unfolding and you have this incredibly layered romance being delivered to you in-between the investigative bits that truly flex the integrity of the series!

I daresay I was smiling the entire time Mr Gage re-entered Lady Darby’s life at Dalmay House! He draws out such a fiery reaction inside her heart – she quite nearly doesn’t know how to handle the emotions that he stirs within her, but at the same time, she’s so fiercely independent due to the circumstances she’s been subjected too, it’s almost as if she’s nearly unwilling to relent that a person can fall for someone they were never opting to meet. Her heart closed to love after her husband’s death and for good reason, yet that doesn’t mean that time wouldn’t find a way to heal her heart in such a way as to surprise her reasoning mind against the logic of such a discovery! He continues to challenge her whilst he vexes her conscience; she is never quite sure how she feels about him except to say, she doesn’t want to become ensnared by his gallantry. I think the greater truth is that she’s trying to resolve how and why she let her heart become smitten when she was truly considering walking into the life of an old maid. She has this will about her that she doesn’t deserve happiness and yet, at the same time, demands to find a way to breathe out a better life than the one where she’s hiding behind family. To say she’s conflicted is to put it mildly!

-quoted from my review of Mortal Arts

I am over the moon in wicked joy in watching these two sort out their relationship & start to realise that neither of them can live without the other close at hand! They truly took each other unawares & were trying to sort out how someone understood them to such a level of depth!

Further proof that at any particular time, this series is a Cosy Historical Mystery; a Gothic Romantic Suspense tale & a beautifully evolving Historical Romance that truly is a joy to read!

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Book Review | “A Grave Matter” (#LadyDarby, No.3) by Anna Lee HuberA Grave Matter
Subtitle: A Lady Darby Mystery
by Anna Lee Huber
Source: Borrowed from local library

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her dear friend, Lady Kiera Darby is in need of a safe haven. Returning to her childhood home, Kiera hopes her beloved brother Trevor and the merriment of the Hogmanay Ball will distract her. But when a caretaker is murdered and a grave is disturbed at nearby Dryburgh Abbey, Kiera is once more thrust into the cold grasp of death.

While Kiera knows that aiding in another inquiry will only further tarnish her reputation, her knowledge of anatomy could make the difference in solving the case. But agreeing to investigate means Kiera must deal with the complicated emotions aroused in her by inquiry agent Sebastian Gage.

When Gage arrives, he reveals that the incident at the Abbey was not the first-some fiend is digging up old bones and holding them for ransom. Now Kiera and Gage must catch the grave robber and put the case to rest...before another victim winds up six feet under.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780425253694

Also by this author: The Anatomist's Wife, Mortal Arts, A Study in Death, As Death Draws Near Book Blast (Series Notes), This Side of Murder

Series: Lady Darby Mysteries

Also in this series: The Anatomist's Wife, Mortal Arts, A Study in Death

Genres: Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Suspense

Published by Berkley Prime Crime

on 1st July, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 421

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The Lady Darby Mysteries:

The Anatomist’s Wife | No.1 | (see Review)

Mortal Arts | No.2 | (see Review)

A Grave Matter | No.3 | Synopsis

A Study in Death | No.4 | Synopsis

A Pressing Engagement | No.4.5 (e-novella) | Synopsis

As Death Draws Near | No.5 | Synopsis | Happy #PubDay 5th of July, 2016

Published By: Berkley Prime Crime (@BerkleyMystery)

imprint of Berkley Publishing (@BerkleyPub)

via Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom)

About Anna Lee Huber

Anna Lee Huber

Anna Lee Huber is the Award-Winning and National Bestselling Author of the Lady Darby Mystery Series. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. From a young age, her imagination was boundless. She spent her summers with her brothers and sister playing Star Wars, wearing snow boots and her mother's old nightgowns while swinging plastic bats as light-sabers, and The A-Team hanging off the riding lawn mower (what else were they supposed to use for the van?). In the fourth grade, she penned her first story, and she’s been writing ever since.

Anna attended college in Music City USA-Nashville, Tennessee, where she met her husband while acting in a school production of Our Town. They married just before she graduated summa cum laude from Lipscomb University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and a minor in Psychology. She now pens the award-winning Lady Darby historical mystery series for Berkley Publishing. Her debut novel, The Anatomist’s Wife, has won and been nominated for numerous awards, including a Daphne du Maurier Award and two 2013 RITA® Awards.

Anna is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, International Thriller Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She currently lives in Indiana with her family, and when not hard at work on her next novel, she enjoys reading, singing, travel, and spending time with her family.

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On the footheels of reading about a dearest friend of Lady Darby having been taken from this world; I knew this chapter of her life would be sombering to read. She has had such an emotional rollarcoaster of a life up til this point; just to stitch together her life was arduously intensive. How her heart will heal from this unexpected loss & not retreat into the regions of self-pity or depression; time will tell.

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My Review of A Grave Matter:

Near the border of England & Scotland
December 1830, 19th Century

Lord & Lady Rutherford’s estate | Lord Rutherford is Kiera’s mother’s brother
19th Century Medical Examiner’s Sketch Artist turnt Detective {Lady (Kiera) Darby}

First appearance by Lady Darby’s brother, Trevor

A New Year is on fast approach, as we move into the heart of Winter, whilst catching up with Lady Darby who has travelled to the Rutherford’s to join the celebrations; although, her inclinations to do so with a free spirit were not as equally matched as others in attendance. This did not surprise me, as Lady Darby has always exhumed a willingness to retreat from large crowds and to participate in smaller more intimate gatherings than the full-on posh bash of a proper party. Despite this or moreso on the encouragement of her brother, Kiera tried to alight inside the joy of those round her, most of whom loved her unconditionally (as they were extended relations) whilst trying not to worry herself over what a new twelvemonth might endeavour to give her in regards to new experiences.

One of the reasons I appreciate reading Cosy Historicals is the fact you get to tuck inside unknown bits of tradition, in this case, I learnt a bit more about my Scottish Highlander roots – as Lady Darby was ringing in the New Year during Hogmanay! I have known for awhile the Scots equal the Irish (of which I am blessed to be descended of both!) for their superstitions, but I hadn’t previously learnt of the ‘first-footer’ tradition in relation to how you select someone of a particular colour head of hair & of a solid background to usher in goodwill for a New Year’s second of arrival! This is curious as it tips the point towards trying to circumvent what may or may not come round all on it’s own-some whilst trying to liven up the celebrations with the unexpected joys all New Year’s mark for our lives. Herein, laid a small quirk of a problem for Lady Darby and the assembled guests – as a blood coated visitor graces the threshold right as the hour has run in 1831! Daresay! Imagine their collective reaction!?

Keeping in step with how Lady Darby finds herself on the fringes of a new investigation – her Uncle Andrew (whose staunch disapproval of her enquiries is now softening to admit his misjudgment) found it necessary to employ her services as he was left without another who could do as well as her to help him (as he’s a local magistrate) solve why a grave was upturnt and a man was left dead at an Abbey. It’s a curious mystery on the surface of things, but what I liked more, was how we get to travel within the environs of Lady Darby! She’s been keeping time with her brother Trevor, recovering from the shocking loss of her childhood friend William Dalmay and unable to focus on much else than the time needed to heal the grief consuming her spirits. I, was so consumed by the events happening, it took me a short spell to realise, what became of her sister Alana and her child soon to be bourne!? I dare hope, Huber has included an update about her sister & family, as I was happily enjoying their inclusions!

Blakelaw House | childhood residence of Lady Darby, inherited by her brother Trevor

Having left the company of her sister Alana, Lady Darby is between residences, whilst staying with her brother as she attempts to sort out her next course of action

Aside from the robbery at the graveyard, you would speculate A Grave Matter also spoke of the grave matters surrounding the heart, mind and subconscious state of the Darby siblings. Lady Darby and Trevor never had a talking out after her husband died; never addressed the guilt Trevor had from not being a better brother nor the anguish she has felt through the aftermath. There are moments in life that can undermine your progress forward if the past is not dealt with to such an extent as to not repeat itself through tortured memory. Better to talk things out, than to let their echoes fester and plague you til the day you can no longer handle their presence.

Kiera has struggled with her psychological well-being since we first met her, as she did not live during a time where society would treat her with kindness or compassionate understanding. They’d rather seek out every way they could riddle her with judgements spun out of hearsay or fear. Part of her healing was forestalled because she had trouble accepting the assistance of those who dearly cared for her happiness. She is closed-off to most emotionally attempting to control everyone’s perception of her, but the disservice is to forsake her process to heal and recovery a measure of joy by living a life removed from her past.

Kiera’s anxiety over the prospect of losing her art reminded me of the years I faced my writer’s block (a decade!) wondering if the muse would return to me (see also #LibraryLoot, No.2). When your a creative person, whatever you find joy in creating is attached directly to who you are and without it’s presence you feel you are only living half of your life. It’s a very frustrating process – I learnt to expand my creative curiosities into new hobbies & interests – serving first as a welcome distraction but turnt into newfound passions! I developed a joy for creating mixed media art collages (esp Vintage or Victorian in design) in miniature (i.e. ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), Gothic Arches, Skinnies or 4×4) as well as handmade cards (esp with artistic rubberstamps) or envelopes. Painting bisque pottery was a way to relax and let my mind unwind. Whilst knitting granted me a challenge and an appreciation for learning a hybrid style of my own making to get the stitches to form on the needles into the patterns I loved knitting together!

The worst you can do is to try to force the hand of your creativity. When your spirit works through the emotional angst of your heart, you’ll have new channels of creative synergy to regenerate your creative pursuits! Even taking you by surprise for how well you’ll start to thrive within this new chapter of where your art can take you! Never despair – latch your mind onto Hope and walk in patience smiling for the new adventures awaiting you! You never know what you pursue (for Kiera it was sleuthing) will invigorate you to re-examine your original path or knit out a new way forward with a different level of focus than the one you previously obtained.

(enter) Gentleman Sleuth: Mr Sebastian Gage – son of a gentlemen inquiry agent

Quite classically (as observed throughout the series!) Kiera and Gage began to investigate with a bit of a volley of honest observations cast like a pebble of consternation towards each other (they do favour their exchange of rows, dear reader!). They collided themselves inside an investigative enquiry where it was quite unfathomable why the victims in this case would be targeted except to say, I felt Huber was tying together the historical elements of real grave robbers who made profit off the recently deceased as this was originally explored in her debut: The Anatomist’s Wife. It pieces together the sensationalism of the era with showing the issue of criminals becoming crafty foxes who grew more daring to achieve their goals; especially in regards to having untoward nefarious intentions for their actions!

Now if only these two could be more on point to disclose their feelings for one another,…

Ha! And, then, Huber delivers such a wicked lovely thread of emotional reactions between my two favourite co-leads, as to make this installment such a sweetened joy to read! I love how Huber has written Mr Gage with such a fierce strength inside him equal to the quieter strength she’s given to Lady Darby; they are such strongly complimented individuals, that whenever they are about to explode into a row against each other, you know the greater truth is that they are each madly in love with the other yet how to bridge their two worlds together is the one quirk that keeps them separated! Aye! Scottish ire and British stubbornness is a potboiler of honesty blurred a bit by the emotions of two characters who are used to being placed onto paths neither of them wants to live. That is also their best bond to each other – not wanting to live the life someone else chooses for them, but rather to pick a partner who loves them without it conditioned to a contract to exchange wealth.

I simply hadn’t expected that Gage had such a creative secret he was harbouring from Lady Darby! These two are two sides of a coin! I was truly celebrating how Huber brought two artistic souls together and in doing so, found a way to slowly heal two hearts who were downtrodden by society and the presumptive expectations of social etiquette! This is definitely a favourite out of the series – as you are finally front and center to observing how Kiera & Gage start to relate on a personal level without the pressures of solving a crime. It’s still a forefront of their conjoined interest – I just overjoyed in the gift Huber gave us to let the sleuthing take a backseat and allow them the stage!

I had nearly forgotten to add – Huber did bring Alana and Philip back – as Kiera had to stay-over in Edinburgh at one point whilst she was caught in the throes of sleuthing out a most interesting historical puzzle surrounding why those bones would be taken from the graves! It was complicated to needle out and it’s ending was one that was sombering at best – as it truly was a heart-breaking reason which motivated the person to take this kind of action. However, the joy for me was getting an update on Alana’s condition (as her fourth pregnancy has been fraught with difficulties) as well as seeing how Alana and Philip are still a mainstay in Kiera’s life! They truly love her and want to see her happy, thus I was thankful beyond words their presence was not jostled out of the story-line but rather cleverly placed to be organically inclusive!

I truly love this series!

I love how Huber brought Kiera & Trevor back together – even to the extent where Trevor served as a sounding board when his sister needed him most – not to just wrestle through their emotional guilt from the past but as a method to understand the war with her heart & the potential future she could grasp if she were courageous enough to trust her instincts.

I truly love how tender & sweet this series is at it’s core to showcase family & the unconditional way love can heal all wounds whilst giving back so much Light to those who seek it. #LadyDarby as a series is one that I will love continuing to champion for readers who ‘want something more’ in their readings of Cosy Historical Mysteries!

Why I love reading the Lady Darby series:

Huber truly has allowed the catalyst of growth for Lady Darby to mature through her real-world experiences as an investigator of crimes best solved by her breadth of knowledge for anatomy & the methodologies along criminology threads of interest. Each time we align ourselves with Kiera, we see another layer of her being lifting out of it’s recessed attachment to the past she has trouble exiting whilst realising that without her past being the way in which it were, she would not have the needed wherewithal to solve crimes! It is also a good benefit to have an extraordinary strong character who commands her presence through self-knowledge and self-directed levels of enquiry towards understanding what is not yet known. Lady Darby is a brilliant heroine for everyone who champions the strength it takes to re-set your life on your own terms.

I also appreciate her flaws, including her lapses in confidence – both in how she’s choosing to live her life and the wanton fluxuations of her heart that are guiding her towards a trusting relationship with Mr Sebastian Gage! Kiera is writ realistically true to her nature and how a woman of the 19th Century might effectively try to live outside traditional society.

The more I read of Lady Darby the more I see a composite of her character as reflected through another: Dr Julia Ogden (see Murdoch Mysteries) of whom was also criticised for her ability to handle the dead! It was not as well accepted to be a woman of independent means nor of independent mind when these two were alive; women would take so much longer to reach a period in time where they could voice their opines without repression and live the life they chose without reproach. The added blessing to their lives were the men who applauded their independence and loved them all the same!

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This review is part of a six-post series about #LadyDarby:

#JorieReads the #LadyDarby series banner created by Jorie via Canva. Book Photography Credit: Jorie of

As I complete my readings of each #LadyDarby Mystery and assemble my collective thoughts on behalf of each of them in turn, I shall be releasing my reviews of the series in sequence of their publication with the one exception of A Pressing Engagement (as I do not read e-books) throughout the week. Leading up to my serial overview and reflections whilst hosting the Book Blast Celebration on behalf of the 5th release of As Death Draws Near. I received a special edition of the fifth release from the publisher in conjunction with the celebration and I can happily say Lady Darby came ‘home’ for the first time since I ‘met her via my local library’! In total, there will be six posts featured on Jorie Loves A Story – where I have the extreme pleasure of blogging my reactions to the series as it unfolded before my eyes!

I hope this second review will inspire your returned visits throughout the week, seeing what impressed me next and how Lady Darby kept captivating me as I read her further investigative adventures!

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Previously I disclosed my admiration on behalf of each book in sequential order:

The Anatomist’s Wife (see Review)

Mortal Arts (see Review)

As well as shared a wink & a nod about my readings of this series via #LibraryLoot, No.2!

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Reader Interactive Question:

What draws your eye into a Cosy Historical Mystery with elements of Cosy Horror threading throughout the investigative bits with a fiercely strong female lead character!?

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the novel or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same novel to read.

IF you LOVE #HistFic & #HistMyst, start #amreading the #LadyDarby series! Click To Tweet

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{SOURCES: Author photograph of Anna Lee Huber, Book Covers of “The Anatomist’s Wife”, “Mortal Arts”, “A Grave Matter” and “A Study in Death”, the Book Synopsis for “A Grave Matter”, and the Author Biography were provided by the author Anna Lee Huber and used by permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 8 July, 2016 by jorielov in 19th Century, Amateur Detective, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Castles & Estates, Cosy Historical Mystery, Cosy Horror, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Historical Thriller Suspense, Lady Detective Fiction, Library Catalogues & Databases, Library Find, Library Love, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Psychological Suspense, Scotland, Siblings, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, the Victorian era

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