cover image A Stroke of Malice

A Stroke of Malice

Anna Lee Huber. Berkley Prime Crime, $17 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-451-49138-1

In Huber’s gripping eighth Lady Darby whodunit (after 2019’s An Artless Demise), it’s 1832, and the hopes of Lady Kiera Darby and her husband, Sebastian Gage, for a relaxing stay at a Scottish castle belonging to the Duchess of Bowmont are dashed during a tour of the castle’s lower level. There, in a chamber that once housed prisoners awaiting torture, the couple come upon a male corpse with a fatal head wound. The man may be Lord Helmswick, the duchess’s son-in-law, who was believed to have left for Paris a month earlier, but damage to the man’s face from animals feeding on the body prevents positive identification. Gage, who carries out discreet private inquiries for members of the nobility, and Kiera are convinced Helmswick was murdered, evidently weeks before the corpse’s discovery. An attempt on Kiera’s life bolsters their belief that a killer is afoot. Huber makes the most of her creepy setting and never strains credulity during the course of the investigation or at the ultimate reveal. Fans of C.S. Harris’s Regency mysteries will be pleased. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Apr.)