The Anatomist's Wife (Lady Darby Mystery # 1) [2nd Review] - Because apparently I need this book site worse then I thought

The Anatomist's Wife - Anna Lee Huber

Have you ever read a book and swore it was written for you? In my experience, those are the books that are lifetime favorites, and this book is well on the way to being my latest edition to that list. (I've already reread it twice. 'Nuff said.)

 

This book has everything: great historical setting, good mystery, fantastic and real characters, and very decent writing. Set during the days of Burke and Hare, this book deals with the feelings towards Anatomists and Resurrectionists as well as other interesting aspects of society during the early 1830s in Scotland and England. With a main character like Lady Darby, Kiera, you are given a wonderful look at the society and setting by someone both on the inside and outside. Between her work as an artist (as a woman) and the rumor and snubbing that came with the death of her husband, Kiera is not quite a member of the group - but one who's able to understand the nuances. I love her so much, she's this odd mixture of strength and weakness, understanding and misunderstanding, righteous anger for other and silent suffering for herself - in a word, she's so human. Gage, her partner in the investigation and romantic interest, is also wonderful complex; to the point where neither she nor we know precisely just how far to trust him. 

 

The mystery was quite interesting and engaging and I was pleased to see the death of the victim treated with much more emotion and delicacy then many mysteries do. The murder victim retains a measure of humanity rather then being relegated to a mere plot point and we see people mourning their passing. This was done without reveling in the gory details. The final twist also came out of nowhere for me. I was completely surprised and that doesn't happen often. But it was the setting and historical detail I adored. Most historical fiction, and in my experience even more so in historical mysteries, does not give you the feeling of actually occurring during the time period. They ring wrong, whether by anachronisms or other small measures, and I can just never quite see the clothes, rooms, or smell the food. This book shoved me right into 1830 and I swear I heard the rustle of skirts and see the Scottish highlands out my window.

 

I enjoyed my time there so much I visited Lady Darby and her family again only a couple weeks after reading the book for the first time. I won't be surprised if I do so again before the year is out; I plan to be a frequent visitor.

 

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Yes, I have written another review for this book, though that was for the ebook I checked out of the library rather then my own copy if that excuse works. The fact that I'd already written a review for the first reading slipped my mind completely and when I was reading it and made a page in my review notebook, I didn't have to ability to check. As they are completely different in tone and coverage, I decided to save both, particularly since this one is more in depth. To see the first one, please check out this link.