by Anna Lee Huber
Series: A Lady Darby Mystery #5
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
I love this book, but it’s getting a bonus 1/2 star bump for being both historically accurate and immediately relevant.
Gage and Kiera are on their honeymoon when they are summoned to Ireland to investigate the death of a young woman, a postulant at the Loretto convent; a recent convert from Anglicanism and a distant cousin of Wellington.
The story’s time – the early 1800’s – and its setting in Ireland, make it the perfect vehicle for exploring religious intolerance and prejudice. If I had to guess, I’d say the author is Roman Catholic, but it’s just a guess, as I think both the Protestants and the Catholics are treated equally. Either way, it is clear that the author is writing from a place of faith herself; the story does not proselytise and it’s not a ‘Christian’ book but its plot is entirely about religion and Huber writes without cynicism, whether she’s talking about its grace or its hypocrisy.
The mystery itself was devastating and complex; I was so very sure I knew where it was going, and I was so very wrong. I saw a small twist coming a mile away but it didn’t go where I thought it would at all. The ending was heart wrenching and gutting and that twist totally blind-sided me.
The author includes a note at the end that discusses what she used from history (a lot) and what she created; she also includes a few recommended reads for those interested in going further. This was an incredibly well-written, entertaining mystery with the added bonus of giving the reader quite a bit to chew on in terms of what people will do to each other in the name of religion and I thought it was handled deftly without being judgemental.
These people, these neighbors, both Protestant and Catholic alike, who spat at each other with such hatred that it sometimes erupted into violence, did so because their faith was slightly different. Because they couldn’t be bothered to learn the truth about each other.
Easily one of my top 5 favourite series – can’t wait for the next one.