Review: A Stroke of Malice (Lady Darby Mystery #8) by Anna Lee Huber

2019 wasn’t even over yet before I sunk my teeth into this one on a cold December afternoon. I adore this series and couldn’t resist picking this one up well before the official release date to see what adventures Gage and Lady Darby get up to this time around!

I am sure a huge fan of Anna Lee Huber, I have read every single book she’s written and while some are better than others, both her Lady Darby and Verity Kent series are solid and tried and true favorites of mine and I would gladly clear my calendar for any of her books!

I picked this one up on a Friday afternoon, by Saturday night I was done with it. It was a great read that had a lot of red herrings to keep readers guessing!

Summary

Scotland 1832. After enjoying a delightful holiday with her family, Lady Kiera Darby is looking forward to finishing her new friend, the Duchess of Bowmont’s portrait, as well as attending the duchess’ annual Twelfth Night party. Though she normally avoids such fashionable events, Kiera trusts the attention will not be focused on her, but rather her notorious hostess and her family. But upon their arrival at the opulent Scottish estate, Kiera and her husband and fellow investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, swiftly deduce that all is not merry in the duke’s household. The family appears to be under a great strain, and someone seems determined to cause mayhem among the guests with a series of forged notes.

However, matters swiftly turn from irksome to downright deadly when the merrymakers stumble upon a decomposing body in the castle’s crypt. This corpse is certainly no laughing matter, especially when it is identified as the duchess’ son-in-law, the Earl of Helmsdale, who had purportedly traveled to Paris more than a month earlier. It is evident the man met with foul play, and Kiera and Gage step in to investigate, at the duchess’ insistence. Kiera and Gage must swiftly reexamine the facts, for a ruthless murderer walks among them and may well be a member of the duchess’ own family. Kiera soon discovers just how deep the killer is willing to dig to keep their secrets from ever seeing the light of day.(summary from Goodreads).

Review

The last book I read in this series was one that I would not recommend reading without having read the previous novels, however this one I think a new reader could easily pick it up and fall in love with Lady Darby and her dashing husband, Sebastian Gage. But the question is, why would you want to? This is such a fun series that even if some of the books can be read out of order, you will want to return to these characters and their mysteries again and again.

This book had a lot of characters to keep track of admittedly and a lot about bloodlines. I did have to play close attention to who was related to who and how which kept me focused on the story but at times distracted a little from the plot because I had to stop and think who was who.

The murder victim in this story isn’t identified until much later in the story which makes this a challenging case for Lady Darby and Gage. There are also a lot of people in the house with motive and means to kill the victim and I loved how many different red herrings there were, just when I thought I knew who had done it, something would happen to make me question if I was right or not. I loved seeing how Gage and Lady Darby worked together to try and ferret out the killer. It was a different approach than in the previous books and I thought it kept things interesting and fresh.

This was an excellent installment in a solid series and one that I think keeps getting better and better with each book. The only thing that I struggled with in this one was the lack of progression between Lady Darby and Gage. They are expecting a baby and I suspect that the next book will have a lot more changes in store for Gage and his wife, but in this book the focus was truly on the mystery and the supporting characters who will likely be making appearances in future mysteries. I can’t wait to see what is in store for Gage and Lady Darby in the next book and I wonder if perhaps the next book will explore the hint of romance between Anderly and Bree. Looking forward to the next one!

Book Info and Rating

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Berkley
ISBN 0451491386 (ISBN13: 9780451491381)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: historical fiction, mystery

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