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Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber
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Mortal Arts

by Anna Lee Huber

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lady Darby (2)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I have been waiting for this book since I devoured Huber's first novel last year and this follow up didn't disappoint. The mystery was intriguing and well plotted and ended in a thrilling conclusion while the tension between Lady Darby and Gage is more intense than before. We learn a bit more about Gage in this novel, and some more about Kiera's past as well that leave more questions than answers and left me just as eager for the next installment. ( )
  eschaalman | Nov 30, 2016 |
Mortal Arts
4 Stars

Lady Kiera Darby travels with her sister and brother-in-law to Edinburgh, but is detoured to Dalmay by an urgent missive from Phillip’s aunt. It seems that Michael Dalmay, an old family friend, is soon to be wed to Phillip’s cousin. Unfortunately, the return of Michael’s older brother and the disappearance of a local girl put a pall on the wedding plans, and Kiera is forced to join forces once again with the enigmatic Sebastian Gage to uncover the truth.

An enjoyable sequel with engaging characters although the mystery is far too obvious.

Similar to Charles Todd’s A Duty to the Dead, Huber provides an accurate and heart-wrenching portrayal of battle fatigue albeit during a much earlier time period (Napoleonic War vs. WWI). Huber’s insight into the human mind as it struggles with the devastating aftermath of war and her descriptions of the terrible atrocities suffered by those afflicted with mental illness and confined to asylums in the 19th century adds a darker tone to the story and makes it impossible for the reader not to sympathize with William Dalmay’s suffering.

The mystery takes time to get going and although the eventual explanation is exceedingly disturbing it is also very predictable. The culprit is glaringly obvious from the start as is the motivation, and all that remains is following along as Kiera and Gage investigate and figure out the hows and the whys of it all.

Gage and Kiera’s relationship (one cannot quite call it a romance at this time) develops at a steady pace as more of Kiera’s past is revealed including her feelings of isolation as a young teen and the time she spent under her nefarious husband’s oppressive thumb. More details of Gage’s background are also provided and they go a long way toward explaining his actions in the previous book. Nevertheless, there are still many unanswered questions and it will be interesting to learn the answers.

Heather Wilds' narration is alright. Her accents are very good, but her pacing is off. She reads quite fast and there are times when the sentences seem to run together, i.e., she doesn't pause would she should at the end of a paragraph or a section of dialogue.

All in all, a well written and disturbing mystery with a touch of romance. Recommended for fans of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series. ( )
  Lauren2013 | Nov 19, 2016 |
I love this character! A nice mystery with a little romance and it pulls information in from the "body snatchers" and mental health issues of the period. ( )
  Nero56 | May 27, 2015 |
No sophomore slump here. An excellent tale of murder and the evils that men do, that takes place in early 19th century Scotland.

After the events that transpired in The Anatomist's Wife, Lady Kiera Darby is pulling herself together. She's no longer trying to disappear amongst the furniture. She's stronger, more willing to stand up for herself and others.

Sebastian Gage is unchanged, although in this book we see more of his true feelings come out - eventually. He's starting to open up, but more like a box whose lid hinges have rusted shut and must be worked open, bit by bit, as opposed to a jammed lid that springs open and starts gushing the box's contents.

That was a horrible metaphor. I hated creative writing in school, and now it's clear why. It’s also clear to me that we’re in for the long haul if we want to see Kiera and Gage together; this is not going to be some combustible romance, but a love that is going to build up over time, tears, and insults, as well as mutual respect and trust that is earned. With a few kisses thrown in to keep the pulse rate up.

There's a mystery and a story in this book - at 370 pages there's room enough for both. Lady Darby and her family are en route to Edinburg when they are asked to make a stop on the way, to the home of an old friend from Keira and Alana's childhood (who also happens to be a uni mate of Alana's husband). Upon arriving they discover the Lord of the manor, William, missing and presumed dead for the last decade, has been found and rescued from an insane asylum his father secretly committed him to. William was, at one time, Keira's art tutor as well as childhood chum; a war hero she had secretly worshipped. She is invested in doing whatever she can to see him mended.

The book’s mystery, in my opinion, takes a bit of a back seat to the larger story here. Mortal Arts is also a narrative about the horrors of war, the damage it does to the men fighting it, and the further damage that can happen when the people who are supposed to love them misunderstand the effects on those returning home. Battle fatigue, shell-shock, PTS, PTSD - whatever name it's given by whatever generation suffers it, it's all the same. We get a front seat view of the damage both the war and the asylum have done to William. Unless you read a lot of horror, or other graphic fiction, I dare say the scene when Kiera sees William again for the first time is one that will leave an impression, if not raise the hair on your arms. Ghastly and horrific. But not really graphic in it’s details - the author allows the reader’s imagination to add the colour and detail (or not) to many of the descriptions.

The mystery surrounds the disappearance of a girl in the village - could William, who's still suffering "episodes" stemming from the horrors of his incarceration, have been responsible? Kiera refuses to believe it's possible for William to hurt any female, but evidence comes to light that he may have murdered a young woman while at the asylum - a fellow "resident" of the facility. Kiera and Gage agree to investigate the missing woman and find out what really happened before deciding William's fate. It’s a good mystery, but not a great one, since I think it’s a rather narrow field of suspects and little doubt as to where the true perpetrator lies. It’s more about establishing for a fact, William’s innocence and finding evidence that can stand up in legal proceedings. Because there’s so much else going on, the mystery itself also loses a bit of urgency, but I didn’t mind, as caught up as I was in the other dramas.

The ending was heart-wrenching; no tears, (thank god! I hate crying over books!) but definitely a bit of melancholy when I closed the book. I found Lady Darby’s reaction to the aftermath felt authentic; I think I would have reacted in much the same manner had I found myself having to suffer similarly.

The last page ends with portents of future investigations and strong use of foreshadowing, which I normally hate, but since I know the third book’s publication date is coming up, I’m not as irritated as I might be. It’s already on my list of books to buy for July and I’m relieved to see there will be at least two books beyond that; colour me hooked on this series. ( )
  murderbydeath | Sep 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anna Lee Huberprimary authorall editionscalculated
Estreicher, TiffanyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rostant, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Worrell, LesleyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For the veterans of all wars, in all times and all places, who suffered from what we now call PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Your cries may have gone unanswered and, in ignorance, your courage may have been questioned.

But we hear you now.

And we honor your bravery and sacrifice.
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It was the groan of death.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425253783, Paperback)

Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue—in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn’t quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator—and romantic entanglement—Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery.

Kiera’s old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother—and Kiera’s childhood art tutor—William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor’s plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend—and save the marriage of another…

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:09 -0400)

"Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue--in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn't quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator--and romantic entanglement--Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery. Kiera's old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother--and Kiera's childhood art tutor--William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor's plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend--and save the marriage of another" --… (more)

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