cover image An Artless Demise

An Artless Demise

Anna Lee Huber. Berkley Prime Crime, $16 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-451-49136-7

In Huber’s strong seventh Lady Darby mystery (after 2018’s A Brush with Shadows), Kiera Gage and her husband, Sebastian, are enjoying domestic life in London in 1831, until four men are arrested for killing a boy to sell his corpse for medical school dissection. The crime—called “burking” after the infamous Burke and Hare murders—stirs public panic and reminds high society of the scandal attached to Kiera’s late first husband, Sir Anthony Darby, who forced her to use her artistic skills on anatomy studies he did with illegally obtained body parts. When a crude blackmail letter arrives threatening to expose more of Sir Anthony’s secrets, the couple decide to take action. They also investigate the murder of a debauched young lord; it’s staged to look like a burking, but Kiera and Sebastian soon discern other motives. While the romantic byplay between the Gages feels clichéd and repetitious, ongoing tensions with Sebastian’s disapproving father add appealing family drama. Huber marries clever plotting with a rich, nuanced use of period history. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Apr.)