by Anna Lee Huber
Series: A Lady Darby Mystery #3
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
It’s over. I wasn’t ready for it to be over.
A Grave Matter is a mystery first, but almost equally it’s a romance as things come to a head between Lady Darby and Sebastian Gage. Ms. Huber will always hold a special place in my heart for not dragging this out past the point of painful into inanity. There’s plenty of conflict between these two but it avoids most of the overused tropes and these two are actually gasp honest and communicative!
I thought the setting fabulously descriptive, although ironically, Edinburgh was the hardest of the locations for me to picture. The border villages and the Abbey were crystal clear and I could hear the frost crackling under their feet as they transversed the graveyards looking for evidence. I found myself reading aloud to MT about the first-footers and I was thrilled at the end of the story to read the author’s note about the authenticity of this tradition. I’m wondering if I can get away with introducing it at our NYE festivities this year.
The plot is delightfully macabre; not scary or graphic and completely fitting with Lady Darby’s background and baggage. I’ll admit I nabbed the bad guy early on, but I can’t say what gave it away. Nevertheless, I was never absolutely certain. I wouldn’t have been surprised had I been wrong.
There might have been some anachronistic narrative; I can’t say for certain, and I think it was almost all in the internal dialogue. While women for millennia have probably wished at one time or another to throw things at men, it feels too modern when Lady Darby ‘contemplated throwing a shoe at his head.’ I don’t care about this, but others might find it jarring.
But the scene at the end between Lady Darby and Gage made even this pragmatic non-romantic feel a bit mushy. Considering the chasteness of the period, Ms. Huber is very good at conveying romantic tension. (To be fair, there’s a LOT of kissing going on; I’m betting more than considered acceptable for the time period. Go Lady Darbry!)
There are a lot of things I could blather on about that I enjoyed; a GR friend is just now starting The Anatomist’s Wife and I’m more than a little jealous – I wish I had 2 and a bit of these books still ahead of me. As it is, I’ll be waiting a very long year to catch up with Lady Darby and Gage.