The Anatomist's Wife is the first in the Lady Darby Mystery series featuring Lady Kiera Darby. Kiera has been widowed for a few years, and is staying with her sister and brother-in-law at his castle in Scotland. Her late husband was an anatomist who married Kiera purely for her artistic talents. Trusting her father's judgement, Kiera married her husband not realizing he would force her to draw anatomical pictures as he dissected bodies. After he dies suddenly, his friends label Kiera as "unnatural" and attempt to have her arrested for criminal acts. She's escaped all of that, but her reputation is in shreds. She's continued to paint and sell her paintings under an assumed name. Hiding out in Scotland has given her a measure of peace, but society doesn't want to forget what they assume is her deviant behavior.
A house party at her sister's castle goes awry when Lady Godwin is found murdered in the maze. Sebastian Gage is part of the house party, and he's an inquiry agent. He's also pretty handsome and asks Kiera to help him since she's had some experience with anatomy. Who killed Lady Godwin, and why? The killer is at the castle, and could possibly be a member of the upper class. Whomever it is, they don't want Kiera to investigate. Will Kiera and Gage solve the mystery before someone else is murdered?
I liked this mystery enough that I have already started on the second in the series and have the third on hold at the library. In 1830's Scotland and England a woman's reputation is everything. Gossip can destroy a woman, and it's hard to change public opinion. Kiera is emotionally damaged by a horrible marriage and what she's witnessed, and struggles to trust Gage and stand up for herself.
The mystery itself is pretty good, and keeps you guessing. Lady Godwin was no saint. I don't read a lot of mysteries; when I do read them, I prefer historical mysteries. Not having the technology to solve a murder as we do now adds to the story for me. Using interview skills, observation, and old fashioned detective work appeals to me and keeps me reaching for these mysteries.
Here are the rest of the Lady Darby mysteries:
Rating: 7/10 for a solid mystery with a heroine who is smart, talented, and partnered with a potential love interest.
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