Series: Lady Darby #10
Published by Berkley Genres: British mystery, Historical Mystery
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the publisher
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Also in this series: The Anatomist's Wife
An all-new historical mystery in this USA Today bestselling series featuring beloved inquiry agents Lady Kiera Darby and her dashing husband, Sebastian Gage.
Argyll, Scotland. July 1832. After a trying few months in Edinburgh, Kiera and her husband and investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, are eager to escape to the Highlands with their three-month-old child. Kiera is overjoyed for her cousin Rye and her detractor-turned-friend Charlotte who are being wed in a private ceremony at the estate of Rye’s great-uncle, the Marquess of Barbreck, in what seems to be the perfect wedding party.
But when Kiera is invited to peruse Barbreck’s extensive art collection, she is disturbed to discover that one of his most priceless paintings seems to be a forgery. The marquess’s furious reaction when she dares to mention it leaves her shaken and the entire house shocked. For it turns out that this is not the first time the word forgery has been uttered in connection with the Barbreck household.
Matters turn more ominous when a maid from a neighboring estate is found murdered where the forged painting hangs. Is her death connected to the forgeries, perhaps a grisly warning of what awaits those who dare to probe deeper? With unknown entities aligned against them, Kiera and Gage are forced to confront the fact that they may have underestimated their opponent. For they are swiftly made to realize that Charlotte’s and Rye’s future happiness is not the only issue at stake, and this stealthy game of cat and mouse could prove to have deadly consequences.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Art forgery and poison prove a perilous mix in the latest Lady Darby mystery
Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series captivated me from its beginning in The Anatomist’s Wife, and Huber’s writing has only gotten stronger since. Marriage and recent motherhood have softened Kiera’s prickly edges and given her a greater wisdom and confidence, but her investigative instincts and artistic vision are as sharp as ever. She and Gage are full partners now, without barriers or major conflicts, which made it easier for me (and, I presume, for them!) to focus on the mystery itself, while still enjoying the personalities of the investigators.
The mystery begins with the discovery that some of Lord Barbreck’s most prized art works are forgeries and deepens with the poisoning of a maid from a neighboring household. It seems probably there is a connection, for her body is discovered in the Long Gallery near the forged Titian. But who poisoned her, how, and why? And who is responsible for the forged paintings? Kiera and Gage are determined to find out.
A Perilous Perspective is both well-written and well-constructed. The mystery kept me guessing for quite some time. I began to suspect the real villain about two-thirds of the way through, but Ms. Huber cleverly deflected my suspicions onto several other suspects whose involvement seemed just as plausible or implausible, if not more so. I wasn’t really sure my solution was correct until shortly before Kiera or Gage caught on. The murder weapon was also clever, and one I had not encountered before.
Huber’s evocation of time and place is masterful. As always, she provided just the right balance of well-researched historical and artistic details, which help to create a completely believable picture of Victorian nobility and gentry within the Scottish milieu. Relationships within and across classes—the drawing room and the servants’ hall, as it were—are skillfully drawn; the main and secondary characters’ feelings and interactions ring true throughout. This is particularly noticeable in Kiera’s case, since the first-person narrative lets us share her thoughts and emotions. I was pleased to see her balancing motherhood and investigation so well (although a good nursemaid is certainly a help in that regard.) And I really enjoyed seeing her and Gage so comfortable and happy together.* But I was surprised and a little disappointed that she does no painting in this book, and little sketching; her artistic focus is mainly on the forgeries.
Here’s where I should admit that I jumped several installments of the series in order to read A Perilous Perspective. I’m glad I had read enough of the earlier books to have a good sense of both Kiera and Gage’s background, but other than that, the book worked perfectly well on its own. While I would recommend reading the series in order because of the long character arcs, particularly Kiera and Gage’s relationship, I don’t think you’ll have a problem if for some reason you miss a few. As for me, I love the series, and plan to go back read all the books I missed (or more likely, listen to), just as soon as I can.
*For those who crave romantic tension in their mysteries, rest easy; the fraught relationship between Kiera’s maid Bree and Gage’s valet Anderley is far from resolved.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Seasons 2022: Spring