cover image As Death Draws Near

As Death Draws Near

Anna Lee Huber. Berkley Prime Crime, $16 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-425-27772-0

Rich political background more than compensates for the slow-moving plot of Huber’s fifth full-length Lady Darby mystery (after 2015’s A Study in Death). In the last installment, the novella A Pressing Engagement, the Scottish noblewoman found love with English detective Sebastian Gage and married him despite their differences in rank. Now, in July 1831, their idyllic honeymoon is cut short when Gage’s father asks him to look into a postulant’s murder in a Catholic nunnery in Ireland. The investigation tests the couple’s mettle as a detective team, especially when a nun is killed soon after they arrive. The real focus of the story is on the political tensions between the English and the Irish, the colonizers and the colonized, which are expressed as religious tensions between the English Anglicans and the Irish Catholics in the form of the tithe rebellions. Huber conveys these intricacies with a light touch through the prism of Lady Darby’s developing political awareness. Fans of historical mysteries will be rewarded. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (July)