Agnes and the Hitman

Agnes and the HitmanAgnes and the Hitman
by Jennifer Crusie
Rating: ★★★★½
isbn: 9780312363048
Publication Date: August 21, 2007
Pages: 368
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press


I used this yesterday as my ‘guilty pleasure’ read for the ukbookaday event and since I had finished and reviewed all my currently reading books yesterday as well, it felt like I had earned a guilty pleasure re-read.  Plus, I figured this would be a great book to christen BL’s new re-read feature with, but it turns out I never recorded any read dates for this before, so that was a bust.

Remember those old-ish Goldie Hawn movies, like Bird on a Wire?  If you’ve seen those movies, you’ll have some idea of what Agnes and the HItman is like.  (Maybe a bit of Analyze This mixed in.) I think this book is MUCH better than Bird on a Wire was, but it’s as close as I can come to describing the tone.

Agnes is having a very bad week.  She’s bought the house of her dreams from her best friends mother, Brenda, with the stipulation that Brenda’s granddaughter (and Agnes’ goddaughter) be married on the grounds with Agnes planning and hosting the whole thing.  Easy!

Except suddenly someone is trying to dognap her dog, at gunpoint.  Seems a bit excessive for an ugly old hound.  Agnes defends herself with her frying pan and in the course of self-defence, the would be dognapper falls through a wall into an unknown basement and dies, letting loose all sorts of family secrets Brenda would have preferred stayed buried.  Agnes’ old friend Joey, a retired and reformed mobster, thinks there’s something up with a dognapping at gunpoint and sends his nephew, Shane, to protect Agnes.  Shane’s in the middle of a job, trying to take out an assassin, but Joey is the man who raised him – sort of – and he’s never asked for anything from Shane in 25 years.

What follows from here is just pure hilarity.  This is not a deep story; don’t look for the characters to be meaningful or even realistic.  There is zero navel-gazing and it’s pretty much non-stop action from first to last.  If liberal use of course language is going to bother you – avoid this book.  If talk about sex bothers you – avoid this book.  The sex isn’t graphic, but discussion about it abounds.

If you’re looking for a light, funny, comedic romp – find this book!  I upgraded mine to hardcover several years ago because I was wearing out my paperback.

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)

The Book of LifeThe Book of Life
by Deborah Harkness
Rating: ★★★★½
isbn: 9780670025596
Series: All Souls #3
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Pages: 563
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Publisher: Viking Books

I have previously proclaimed my irrational love of the first two books in this series, so it will come as no surprise to anyone that this one gets 5 stars from me.

There are few books out there I find myself truly immersed in; the kind that when I’m interrupted, I’ll look up from my book, but I’m not really there.  My eyes might be a bit glassy and I’ll stare blankly at my own DH as though he’s a stranger.  This is such a book.

I’ll admit I was expecting a war; at the very least, a massive battle.  I prepared myself to hate the author for killing off a character, or characters that I had become attached to.  For a few dozen pages, I was certain it was going to be a specific character.  Luckily, the story was not as predictable as all that.

While reading, I picked up on shades of Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus, as well as more common themes of tolerance, acceptance and fear of that which is not understood.  The twist at the end is only a twist because it is so obvious.  Of all the beliefs  humans cling to throughout history that have proven to be illusory over and over again, the idea that we control anything must surely make the top 5 list.

But what it all boils down to for me is that I just love this whole story: its characters, its plot, its settings – it all just clicks for me.  Some have likened Diana to whatshername in Twilight but I don’t see the Mary Jane – I just saw a character – a very intelligent, strong and independent one – trying to get a grip on a massive amount of change happening in a short amount of time.  I never got the victim vibe from her.  I don’t pretend to understand the all consuming love she and Matthew apparently share, but it’s thankfully not so soppy and mushy I feel the need for insulin.

All the major plot points of the three books are wrapped up at the end of this one, but, vexingly, a lot of characters’ stories are…unfinished.  They aren’t cliff-hangers, and the story could easily end here and Ms. Harkness could disappear back into the history stacks never to be heard from again in fiction.  But she has left a number of openings for a return should she choose to do so.  A lot of secondary characters are left with their stories still ongoing.  At least one of them – Gallowglass – I’d be the first in line to read more about.  I’m more than a little half in love with him.

Whether Ms Harkness every writes another word about these people or not, I’ll at least be able to re-read and ‘see’ them all again.

A Grave Matter (Lady Darby Mystery #3)

A Grave MatterA Grave Matter
by Anna Lee Huber
Rating: ★★★★½
isbn: 9780425253694
Series: A Lady Darby Mystery #3
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Pages: 421
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Well rats.

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.

Sixth Grave on the Edge (Charlie Davidson, #6)

Sixth Grave on the EdgeSixth Grave on the Edge
by Darynda Jones
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9781250045638
Series: Charlie Davidson #6
Publication Date: May 4, 2014
Pages: 326
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Most girls might think twice before getting engaged to someone like Reyes Farrow—but Charley Davidson is not most girls. She's a private eye and grim reaper who's known to be a bit of a hell-raiser, especially after a few shots of caffeine. Her beloved Reyes may be the only begotten son of evil, but he's dark and sultry and deeply sexy and everything Charley could hope for. Really. But when the FBI file on Reyes' childhood happens to land into her lap, she can't help herself: She opens it...and then the real fun begins.

First, Charley finds a naked corpse riding shotgun in her car. Then, a man loses his soul in a card game. Throw in a Deaf boy who sees dead people, a woman running from mobsters, and a very suspicious Reyes, and things can't get any worse for Charley. Unless, of course, the Twelve Beasts of Hell are unleashed…

The covers of the Charlie Davidson series always have a quote on the front comparing them to Janet Evanovich’s books.  It’s a particular pet peeve of mine, because it seems every other book with any humour in it at all has a Stephanie Plum comparison quote on it’s cover.  And they are never anything like the Stephanie Plum books.  However, if anyone comes close it’s Charlie Davidson.  But she is oh, so much more.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the Plum novels, they’re a hoot, but I think it’s a bit of a backhanded compliment to compare Charlie to Stephanie.

Charlie is a P.I. and the grim reaper –a portal to heaven.  She’s in love with the son of Satan himself; created and sent to Earth for the sole purpose of destroying her.  Only the son has his own agenda; he’s in love with Charlie and has been for centuries.  She just barely juggles both jobs and in spite of herself, manages to make a difference.

I love these books and I loved Sixth Grave… Ms. Jones hasn’t yet written a bad book, imo.  They are first and foremost entertaining; Charlie’s thoughts and dialogue are written as an almost continuous stream of jokes, but it’s not just about the funny.  There is a lot of pain, a lot of violence, a lot of empathy, a lot of mythology, and some –not a lot– scorching love scenes (pun sort of intended).  The series’ premise is steeped deeply in biblical mythology, and belief and faith are strong themes without bringing religion into it.  I enjoy this part even more than I enjoy the humour.  Sixth Grave just hit all the right buttons for me.

The only negative notes for me, and the reason it’s a 4 star instead of 5 is the repetition of a couple of pieces of information that felt more like someone forgot they’d already been mentioned than just refreshers, and the ending.  The ending, although it feels like the inevitable evolution of the mythology Ms. Jones has created, has me worried.

Worried or not, I can’t wait for Seventh Grave’s release.  Ms. Jones owns me at this point. If you like Urban Fantasy that straddles the PNR line (or crosses it – I could argue either way), can handle some non-gratuitous violence and love wise-cracking, kick-ass heroines who have the power and strength to save the world, you might enjoy these books and I highly recommend checking them out.

Murder of Crows (A Novel of the Others, #2)

Murder of CrowsMurder of Crows
by Anne Bishop
Rating: ★★★★½
isbn: 9780451465269
Series: The Others #2
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Pages: 354
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: ROC Hardcover


Thank god that’s over!  Let me explain:

This weekend in Melbourne we had an Indian Summer.  (For those of you not familiar with the American term:  Indian Summer: a period of unusually dry, warm weather occurring in late autumn.)  I know this only in the vaguest sense because honestly, I couldn’t freaking put the book down long enough to look outside.  Laundry didn’t get done.  DH was resoundingly ignored.  Luckily he cooks or we’d have both gone without eating.  I’m not exactly sure what I did eat, come to think of it – he put a plate in front of me and I ate whatever was on it.  I do remember chewing…  I’m sure it was delicious…

Thankfully books like this only come around a couple of times a year.  The compulsive need to keep reading is, I think, something that’s best enjoyed in small doses.

Murder of Crows was just as good as Written in Red.  Tess and the Elementals are still my favourites, and I still enjoyed the swift and devastating justice that is consistently delivered by the Others.  That sounds blood-thirsty doesn’t it?  But the world Ms. Bishop has created is a very black and white world in terms of morality.  The Others control all the land, all the resources, and where humans are allowed to live and how much of any resource can be used.  Clear cut rules exist for other/human interaction, (although the Others prefer no interaction at all).  Following the rules brings peace, or at least detente.  Breaking the rules means death.  No warnings, just death.

Meg is what happens when you introduce gray to this black and white world.  Human, but not prey, she doesn’t judge and treats everyone, Other or Human, with kindness.  This book starts to explore just what kind of changes are possible when one person/other, and then another, and another choose shades of gray.

The immediate plot of Murder of Crows is the continuation and resolution of one started in Written in Red as well as The Controller’s ongoing campaign to bring Meg back to his facility.  Instead of a slow build up leading to a final climax, this book is a series of smaller climaxes each bringing the story closer to an end.  While I’d rather not wait for the third book, at least the story ended with at least as much satisfaction as anticipation.

Written in Red (Book of the Others, #1)

Written in RedWritten in Red
by Anne Bishop
Rating: ★★★★★
Series: The Others #1
Publication Date: May 3, 2013
Pages: 448
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: NAL Hardcover


The minute I read the last line of this book I shut it and said to DH, ‘Yeah, I have to read the second book right now.’

When I came here to mark the book as read, I commented again to DH, ‘I just don’t even know what I’m going to write…’ and he suggested that I write (and he was laughing when he said this, understand), ‘sorry everyone, but f*ck off, I’m sitting down to read the second book, and I’ll update this review when I have time.’

Tempting only because I absolutely have to go crack open the second book.  I wasn’t ready for this one to end and I need more.  But if I actually say that, I’ll end up mixing up what happened in which book, and possibly lose a couple of BL friends in the process. 😉  So I’m going to write this as quickly as I can, probably not proofread it right away as I always do, and get back to the Others.

I’m only going to say what most everyone else is saying about this book.  It’s excellent.  There wasn’t a thing I didn’t thoroughly enjoy about it.  The writing is crisp, clear, descriptively vivid – the only thing I had a hard time seeing clearly was the Liaison office.  Everything else was perfectly laid out.

I liked Meg, and that the author gave us enough information without dumping, and at a pace that mimicked getting to know a new friend.  I liked all the Others too, although my favorites were the Elementals, Tess and Henry.  I know someone who reminds me of Henry.  I was very unhappy about Hurricane.

There isn’t just one plot running through the book.  The one meant to wrap up in this book did so spectacularly and heaven help me I really liked the Others sense of justice (in a fictional world where all the bad guys are clearly bad guys).  I really enjoyed the bursts of humour sprinkled throughout the book too – I found myself laughing out loud more than a couple of times.

Now my need to go read ‘Murder of Crows’ is overcoming my desire to write a coherent review.   I’ll come back and edit this later; but as Meg must cut, I must read.

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson, #8)

Night BrokenNight Broken
by Patricia Briggs
Rating: ★★★½
isbn: 9780425256749
Series: Mercy Thompson #8
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Pages: 341
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace

When her mate’s ex-wife storms back into their lives, Mercy knows something isn’t right. Christy has the furthest thing from good intentions—she wants Adam back, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get him, including turning the pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. As the bodies start piling up, she must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

2021 Update: On re-reading, I still think that first scene is way over the top – even more so than River Marked.  I actually dinged it another .5 star on my second read because of this.  The rest of my original review is absolutely spot on.

Original review: I’ve been avoiding my computer all day, because I knew I’d have to write this review (well, ok, I don’t have to, but I’m willingly committed to saying something about each book I read).  And I don’t really know what to say – I liked the book, but I’m a bit conflicted.

I would definitely count myself a fan of the Mercy Thompson series and Patrica Briggs’ writing in general, and, make no mistake, I devoured this book and enjoyed it.  I’d tell anyone who has read her books that this one is a worthy entry.  If asked about it, I guess this is about what I would say:

A really good read.  This book felt like it had a bit more humour that most of the others in the series; one-liners or dialogue that are funny but not comedic.  We get to see Mercy struggle with being the better woman when Adam’s ex-wife comes to town.  We find out more information (although not much) about Coyote and another walker is introduced.

But two things I’d mention about the story.  The first one is a bordering-on-eye-rolling thing.  The first scene where we meet Christie’s stalker reminded me a bit of the over-the-topness from some of the final scenes of River Marked.  I really love how Ms. Briggs weaves different myths and cultures into the Mercy universe and this one is no different.  She had me going to Wikipedia to learn more.  I just felt like that first scene was overdone.  The final scene was fantastic though; really, really well written.

The second struggle I have is an on-going one with the whole series.  It is a testament to Ms. Briggs excellent writing and subtle (most of the time) handling of difficult or dark issues that keeps me coming back, book after book.  But I can’t stand reading about anyone hurting animals.  Hate, hate, hate it and normally I just close the book and get rid of it when I stumble across one that includes animal cruelty/sacrifice/anything-that-isn’t snuggly.  But the Mercy books (and at least one Alpha & Omega) include animal death.  It isn’t dwelt on, or detailed (much) and it’s usually after the fact, but it’s still really difficult for me to get through and it diminishes my enjoyment of the books.

If Ms. Briggs granted me one wish, it would be that future story lines wouldn’t include bad things happening to good animals and a solemn oath that nothing will ever happen to Medea.  Because I have serious angst about that sweet cat and her continued safety.

But Ms. Briggs doesn’t know me or have any reason to grant me wishes, so I’ll keep on reading, keeping my fingers crossed for the critters, and focussing on all the great things that make this series worth reading.

Mortal Arts (Lady Darby Mystery #2)

Mortal ArtsMortal Arts
by Anna Lee Huber
Rating: ★★★★½
isbn: 9780425253786
Series: A Lady Darby Mystery #2
Publication Date: March 9, 2013
Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: Berkley

No sophomore slump here.  An excellent tale of murder and the evils that men do, that takes place in early 19th century Scotland.

After the events that transpired in The Anatomist’s Wife, Lady Kiera Darby is pulling herself together.  She’s no longer trying to disappear amongst the furniture.  She’s stronger, more willing to stand up for herself and others.

Sebastian Gage is unchanged, although in this book we see more of his true feelings come out – eventually.  He’s starting to open up, but more like a box whose lid hinges have rusted shut and must be worked open, bit by bit, as opposed to a jammed lid that springs open and starts gushing the box’s contents.

That was a horrible metaphor.  I hated creative writing in school, and now it’s clear why.  It’s also clear to me that we’re in for the long haul if we want to see Kiera and Gage together; this is not going to be some combustible romance, but a love that is going to build up over time, tears, and insults, as well as mutual respect and trust that is earned.  With a few kisses thrown in to keep the pulse rate up.

There’s a mystery and a story in this book – at 370 pages there’s room enough for both.  Lady Darby and her family are en route to Edinburg when they are asked to make a stop on the way, to the home of an old friend from Keira and Alana’s childhood (who also happens to be a uni mate of Alana’s husband).  Upon arriving they discover the Lord of the manor, William, missing and presumed dead for the last decade, has been found and rescued from an insane asylum his father secretly committed him to.  William was, at one time, Keira’s art tutor as well as childhood chum; a war hero she had secretly worshipped.  She is invested in doing whatever she can to see him mended.

The book’s mystery, in my opinion, takes a bit of a back seat to the larger story here.  Mortal Arts is also a narrative about the horrors of war, the damage it does to the men fighting it, and the further damage that can happen when the people who are supposed to love them misunderstand the effects on those returning home.  Battle fatigue, shell-shock, PTS, PTSD – whatever name it’s given by whatever generation suffers it, it’s all the same.  We get a front seat view of the damage both the war and the asylum have done to William.  Unless you read a lot of horror, or other graphic fiction, I dare say the scene when Kiera sees William again for the first time is one that will leave an impression, if not raise the hair on your arms.  Ghastly and horrific.  But not really graphic in it’s details – the author allows the reader’s imagination to add the colour and detail (or not) to many of the descriptions.

The mystery surrounds the disappearance of a girl in the village – could William, who’s still suffering ‘episodes’ stemming from the horrors of his incarceration, have been responsible?  Kiera refuses to believe it’s possible for William to hurt any female, but evidence comes to light that he may have murdered a young woman while at the asylum – a fellow ‘resident’ of the facility.  Kiera and Gage agree to investigate the missing woman and find out what really happened before deciding William’s fate.  It’s a good mystery, but not a great one, since I think it’s a rather narrow field of suspects and little doubt as to where the true perpetrator lies.  It’s more about establishing for a fact, William’s innocence and finding evidence that can stand up in legal proceedings.  Because there’s so much else going on, the mystery itself also loses a bit of urgency, but I didn’t mind, as caught up as I was in the other dramas.

The ending was heart-wrenching; no tears, (thank god, I hate crying over books!) but definitely a bit of melancholy when I closed the book.  I found Lady Darby’s reaction to the aftermath felt authentic; I think I would have reacted in much the same manner had I found myself having to suffer similarly.

The last page ends with portents of future investigations and strong use of foreshadowing, which I normally hate, but since I know the third book’s publication date is coming up, I’m not as irritated as I might be.  It’s already on my list of books to buy for July and I’m relieved to see there will be at least two books beyond that; colour me hooked on this series.

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)

Frost BurnedFrost Burned
by Patricia Briggs
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9780441020010
Series: Mercy Thompson #7
Publication Date: March 4, 2013
Pages: 342
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace

After a traffic accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack. They’ve all been abducted. Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related to the political battle the werewolves have been fighting to gain acceptance from the public—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outmatched and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

I was late to the Mercy-love, and was only convinced to try this series a few months ago.  I LOVE it when that happens, as it means that there are lots of delicious stories just waiting for me to gorge myself on.  And even though the series is darker than I usually like in my books, a bit more gory, a bit more creepy and violent, gorge is exactly what I did.  I totally fell for all the characters:  Mercy is someone I’d choose to be friends with – she’s neither butch, nor victim, nor susie-mary-sunshine.  Adam, while not my personal type (Samuel comes closer) is a good mate for Mercy.  Stephan and his Scooby Van?  Priceless!

I held off ordering Frost Burned hoping that I could string out the reading to get me closer to the March release of the new book, but when push came to shove, I couldn’t leave it any longer on the TBR pile.

I can’t believe anyone interested in UF hasn’t already read this book, but in the interests of thoroughness, Frost Burned starts with Mercy and her step daughter Jesse are in a car accident during a midnight shopping spree on Black Friday.  Calling for assistance, Mercy finds that everyone in the pack is missing: no one is answering their phones and a cryptic message from the Marrok indicates that phones are not safe to use.  Mercy needs to find her mate, find her pack and figure out who’s behind the mass kidnapping and what they hope to accomplish.

It’s obvious from my rating that I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so when I say that I found the structure of the story to be a bit different, that’s a good thing.  As many books as I read, I sometimes find myself a bit bored by the tried and true path most fiction takes: introduction, conflict revelation, build up of tension as the conflict is worked through, climax, and the wrap up.  It’s a cross-genre structure and it works, but it adds a bit of predictability to any book, no matter the plot line.

So, when the book starts off with the pack’s abduction, my first thought was ‘ok, I’m now going to read 20 chapters of Mercy searching for her mate and pack, fighting off random attacks from bad guys, going down blind alleys and chasing down false clues until she finally finds the pack and engages in a final battle to free them’.  Hah!  Frost Burned surprised me – Ms. Briggs tweaked the formula; this is a book that has at least two sets of conflict/buildup/climax arcs, offering a story that is quick to action.  It felt like the book and plot were off and running well before I expected it to be, and what I thought was the major plot point was resolved almost immediately, which means I was thoroughly sucked in because I wanted to know what was going on?!  It also means this was a very intricate, complex plot that left me in a completely different place at the end from where I expected to find myself.


Also, KUDOS! to Ms. Briggs for having Mercy contact the police and tell the truth about what was happening!  I love that she did not make the plot more convoluted or complicated than it had to be.  Bringing the goals of the kidnappers out in the open and publicly announcing them to the press is exactly what a very smart, very clever strategist would do and I just ate it all up like a custard donut!


Why not 5 star?  That last star was lost because as Machiavellian as the villain was in this book, I felt like a few things that were front and centre at the beginning of the book were lost at the end.  The plot was just a bit too twisty without a more thorough explanation of a few points at the end; I was left wanting at the wrap up stage.


There was a very, very big deal made for the first half of the book about the plotted assassination of the senator.  By the end it’s completely dropped but I was left wondering:  what was Frost’s purpose with the assassination?  Did he hope to accomplish something?  Was it all for show?  Was the assassination plot even real?  He was trying to take over all the vampires in the country the way the Marrok ran the weres, but how did kidnapping Adam and his pack further that aim?  Did it? or was it more smoke and mirrors and if so, why?  If all he wanted to do was leave Marsilla vulnerable, I have to say, it was all a bit overkill.


I’ll wrap up by mentioning that Frost Burned picks up after Fair Game in the Alpha & Omega series, so if you’re picking up Frost Burned but don’t read A&O or aren’t current, there are events mentioned and repercussions to live with, that won’t be familiar to you.  It’s not a show stopper, but I can see how it might leave people confused at the beginning.  If you haven’t read the A&O series, it’s a good read; not as good as Mercy IMO, but well worth it’s place in the TBR pile.

The Anatomist’s Wife (A Lady Darby Mystery #1)

The Anatomist's WifeThe Anatomist's Wife
by Anna Lee Huber
Rating: ★★★★
Series: A Lady Darby Mystery #1
Publication Date: February 1, 2016
Pages: 357
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: Berkley

I read about this book recently here on BookLikes and the combination of the review and the title grabbed my attention enough that I went right out and ordered the book.  I received it this week, and it became my Friday-after-Thanksgiving-and-I’m-not-moving read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book – at least, I enjoyed it as much as I could considering the murder (this murder isn’t for the feint of heart or those that like their murders cozy – this was gruesome).  This is an example of the type of historical mysteries that hook me; I can get behind these characters and care deeply about what happens to them.

The main character is Kiera, Lady Darby.  She’s the widow with a scandalous, somewhat tragic past.  But not in the typical, clichéd way; I like what the author has done to create this character and to me, it’s very unique.  There’s a bit of wounded bird to her personality, justifiably so, but there are moments where she gives as good as she gets and those moments are gold.  Her sister Alana is fantastically likeable and it’s a breath of fresh air to read a book about sisters who like each other;  I’ve rather been on a run of books with nasty-shrew sisters recently.

Gage, the inquiry agent is perfect for a series worth of fun sexual tension and witty banter. Blond/blue eyed, gorgeous, intelligent and a rogue.  The scenes with Gage and Keira are sometimes fun, oftentimes sweet and always leaving me wanting to read more.  I love that Keira is a widow, we get to skip all that innocent-lamb-must-be-chaperoned stuff that comes with women who’ve not yet been married.

The rest of the characters are all vividly written and easy to distinguish, although I’ll admit at first to being worried about keeping all the Lords, Marquis, and Earl’s straight.  Luckily, in such a large house party, only a handful were serious suspects and it became much easier to keep them all straight.

As to the murder plot, I never had any idea who it was.  It wasn’t just a matter of who wanted the victim dead, but who would go to such lengths?  This wasn’t a run-of-the-mill murder.  I didn’t start to put it all together until Keira did, and that’s always fun when it happens.  I don’t mind guessing early if the characters are worth reading about, but not figuring it out until I’m supposed to?  Well that’s just the best possible outcome for a murder mystery.

My only beef with the plot:

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Overall, this was a great book and I’ve already ordered the second in the series.  I couldn’t put it down even though I was exhausted from holiday revelry the day before, so I still stayed up too late last night because I had to know how it ended.  I can’t wait for the next one to arrive.

How did Gage, Phillip and the rest of the rescue party know that Lord Stratford took the three women out into the loch?  I don’t see how Gage had time to find Keira’s note, trace her movements, figure out about the boat, run back and organise another boat and a rescue party, all in time to make that final showdown scene work.  It fails the logic test.


Overall, this was a great book and I’ve already ordered the second in the series.  I couldn’t put it down even though I was exhausted from holiday revelry the day before, so I still stayed up too late last night because I had to know how it ended.  I can’t wait for the next one to arrive.