Daisies and bones

A Grave Matter - Anna Lee Huber

I hate it when I have to disagree with my friends about a book or a series. Many readers like this series, but for me, the best one was the first book, The Anatomist’s Wife (my review here). I couldn’t finish the second book in this series – it was too depressing. I did finish this one although I was tempted to give it up at least a couple of times. It was a disappointment; I wanted so much to like it, but this novel was very slow.
It takes place at the same time as the first two novels of the series, in 1830. It’s also a historical mystery. The protagonist Kiera, Lady Darby, again stumbles upon a murder and she is assisting Sebastian Gage, an inquiry agent we know from the first two books, in his investigation. Along the way, the two explore their deepening relationship.

It could’ve been such a fun romp. Instead, for most of the book, the heroes shuttle from location to location without uncovering any clues to the baffling crime. They ride in their carriage from one estate to another, talking to various people, while the action stands still. Nothing else happens. No revelations occur. Even the murder was accidental.
The main crime they investigate is that someone steals old bones of long-dead aristocrats from cemeteries all around Scotland and then ransoms them to the relatives. The author and the heroes, except Kiera herself, are more concerned about recovering old bones and the indignities done to the dead and their rich living relatives than they are about the murdered man. He was a poor caretaker after all, and the dead were all nobility. It made me so angry.
Another reason for my dislike of this story: almost the entire book, Kiera is in the grips of angst about Gage, as if she was fifteen and not a grown woman. Yes, her previous marriage was a disaster, but she is free of it now. Her brutal husband is dead. Gage has proven himself to her several times already, even though he never confessed his undying devotion.
Hasn’t she learned what is what in her three years of marriage and two years of widowhood? Why is she mooning and pining like a teenager all her waking hours: “he loves me – he loves me not?” Only the daisies and their petals are missing. After a hundred pages or so of such nauseating inner monologue, I got heartily tired of it. It makes Kiera seem stupid and immature – not a message I expected from the series.
The writing is good, clean and professional, and the editing superb. And except for her insecurities about Gage and his love, I liked Kiera. She is an interesting protagonist, complex and talented. Maybe the author writes in the wrong genre? I think she might be much better suited to romantic suspense than to murder mystery.

The cover of this book is wonderful, much better than the first two.