cover image Mortal Arts

Mortal Arts

Anna Lee Huber. Berkley Prime Crime, $16 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-425-25378-6

Set largely in Scotland in 1830, Huber’s well-done sequel to 2012’s The Anatomist’s Wife includes all the ingredients of a romantic suspense novel, starting with a proud and independent heroine. Talented artist Lady Kiera Darby, who survived a dreadful first marriage, remains the object of society gossip. She’s attracted to the dashing and rather mysterious Sebastian Gage, the upper class’s go-to guy for private inquiries in Britain, with whom she has lots of misunderstandings. Strong and lively characters as well as believable family dynamics, however, elevate this above stock genre fare. Furthermore, the underlying mystery deals with a serious, even horrifying, subject—the treatment of the insane in asylums. Readers should be prepared for some grim tales, though credit Huber for not turning this into a treatise on post-traumatic stress disorder. Rather, she assembles a collection of facts that unfold gradually, serving the story rather than the other way around. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Sept.)