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The Anatomist's Wife (A Lady Darby…
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The Anatomist's Wife (A Lady Darby Mystery) (edition 2012)

by Anna Lee Huber

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3832541,947 (3.82)23
Member:BookConfessions
Title:The Anatomist's Wife (A Lady Darby Mystery)
Authors:Anna Lee Huber
Info:Berkley Trade (2012), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:To read
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The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber

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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
This book should be called The Anatomist's Widow. Lady Darby is a woman scorned by society because as an artist her husband forced her to draw pictures of his autopsy work. She was considered a freak and is living with her sister and brother-in-law at their country estate in Scotland. Her sister is having a house party; and of course there is a murder, and Lady Darby is the chief suspect. This introduces her to Sebastian Gage who is asked to investigate and there is a slow building attraction between them. He has the charm to ask the right questions and she has the ability to to put the information together to solve the case. ( )
  Kathy89 | Jan 19, 2019 |
Most stories, especially murder mysteries, have backstories. What happened before the murder, or as in Peter Heller's “Celine,” what has brought the hero to this point? How a writer handles backstory is one measure of that person's gifts as a storyteller.

Reading “The Anatomist's Wife,” Anna Lee Huber's first Lady Darby mystery (2012), on the strength of one very favorable review, I was most struck by how skillfully this author handles backstory. The murder happens on the very first page, so there is no prologue setting the stage for the murder. Nor, afterward, is there a long flashback, or even a short one. There are no interruptions in the narrative. Rather Huber fills in the blanks gradually, almost on a need-to-know basis.

Most of those blanks have to do with our title character, Lady Kiera Darby herself. She is a young widow whose husband, after an arranged marriage, was a man who dissected corpses and insisted that Kiera, because of her artistic ability, illustrate in detail those dissections. This came to light after his death. Even male participation in human dissection was controversial in the early 19th century, but the involvement of a woman was considered downright shocking, and after the murder of Lady Godwin at Kiera's sister's estate, Kiera is deemed by many of the houseguests to be the prime suspect.

Yet because of her knowledge of human anatomy, she is asked to assist a rakish Sebastian Gage in investigating the murder until the proper authorities can be brought to the scene. (The novel has an interesting discussion of the difference between a rake and rogue.) She detests the handsome, womanizing Gage at first (though we know she will eventually fall in love with him), but she agrees, and they make a good team. He possesses the charm for getting witnesses and suspects to reveal what they know, while Kiera has the ability to put pieces of the puzzle together.

Huber's story moves seamlessly along, the suspense building gradually. There are no lapses where the reader is tempted to cry out, "Get on with it, already!" The denouement goes on for four chapters, more than 40 pages, and this may seem excessive when we already know the murderer and that Kiera is saved. Yet there are still questions to be answered, and Huber makes these final pages fly by as quickly as any of the others in this novel. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Aug 6, 2018 |
This mystery takes place at a house party in Scotland. Lady Keira Darby has taken refuge with her sister after her husband's death and accusations that she is an unnatural woman. Her husband was a famous surgeon and anatomist who married Keira for her artistic talents. He used her to make drawings of his dissections. Keira was forced to comply in order to be able to paint. She has the strong support of her sister and brother-in-law but most of society spread vicious rumors about her.

When a woman's butchered body is found in the maze, Keira is the focus of gossip again. Her brother-in-law pairs her with Sebastian Gage to investigate while the proper authorities travel there from Edinburgh. They have four days to solve the crime and clear Keira's name.

The woman had her throat slit and her five month fetus cut from her womb. Since her husband has been on his way to India for more than five months, Keira and Gage begin by looking at the lady's lovers. Several of them are also at the house party. They also become suspicious of the wife of one of the lovers who states that she was the murdered lady's best friend.

This was a nicely twisty mystery with a great setting. The Highlands of Scotland and the close quarters of the house party are nicely detailed. I liked the budding relationship between Keira and Gage and liked that she was the one who found the murderer despite Gage's greater experience in investigations. Keira, particularly, was a well-drawn character that the reader got to know. I liked the way she grew and changed during the story.

This book begins a series of historical mysteries and I was quick to order the rest of the series after reading this one. ( )
  kmartin802 | Jun 10, 2018 |
I think that this book series would make a good television show. Everyone love period murder mysteries, right?

This one was pretty good. I don't read a lot of Victorian-era historical books, and I limit my mysteries because most of the time I guess the killer in the first 30% and then I'm bored for the rest of the book. That was not the case with this one - at 50% I had developed a (wrong) conspiracy theory about the killer, and at 75% I knew who it was, but they behaved differently. There's a lot of thrown-in details to point you in the wrong direction, which is fun/frustrating. I love who-done-its. I'm so, so bad at them when they're done properly like this.

I feel like books like this are why book clubs exist. The members read to page 200 and all argue about who the killer is and their theories about it and it's so much more fun to speculate about murderers than romantic pairings (I think).

Really solid read, not too much cheesy romance. There's romance, but it's subtle and well done - a rare find these days, where romance so often overrides the other genres. I liked it and I'm in for book 2.

That said - the narrator wasn't the best. Her voices were fine, but her pacing was strange and she paused in odd places. It took a while to get used to her and even then I stumbled occasionally. ( )
  Morteana | Jun 2, 2018 |
The Anatomist's Wife
4.5 Stars

Lady Kiera Darby is a social outcast due to the revelation that she assisted her deceased husband in his anatomical dissections. Thus, when Lady Godwin is found murdered during a house party at the ancestral home of Kiera’s brother-in-law, suspicion naturally falls on her and she must make use of her knowledge of the human body to clear her name.

A well-paced mystery with an engaging protagonist and some intriguing hints at a romance to come.

Kiera is a particularly likable heroine as she is highly intelligent and in possession of a quiet strength and resilience that is very appealing. The manner in which she deals with society’s ignorant prejudices and hypocrisy, with honor and dignity, makes it impossible not to empathize with her predicament. She also grows in confidence as the story progresses and approaches every situation in a practical manner with no TSTL moments.

Kiera’s investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, is slightly more ambiguous with his rakish ways, and as the narrative is in the first person, it is never clear what his thoughts and feelings for Kiera are. Nevertheless, there is some intense sexual tension between the two and it will be interesting to see where this goes in future installments.

The mystery is well developed albeit a bit more detailed in the gruesome description department than other historical mysteries such as the Bess Crawford and Lady Julia series. The investigation unfolds at a solid pace (which is actually better than in the Lady Julia books) and the climax and resolution are exciting. While there is an abundance of suspects, it is rather easy to spot the culprit although the motive is more complex and diabolical.

Heather Wilds narration is very good. Her reading pace is more rapid than many other narrators, but she speaks clearly and there is no need to slow the speed. Nevertheless, her voices are not as distinct as they could have been, especially for the men but that's not a deal breaker.

Highly recommended for fans of the Lady Julia series by Deanna Raybourn. ( )
  Lauren2013 | May 24, 2018 |
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Epigraph
Be sure to live your life, because you are a long time dead.
—Scottish proverb
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For my husband, Shanon,
With love, always and forever
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The scream froze me in my tracks, but the shout that followed propelled me out of my indecision and around the hedege line of the maze.
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Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister's estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes. Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage--a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent.… (more)

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