A Study in Death is the fourth installment in Huber’s Lady Darby historical mystery series and just so happens to be one of my most anticipated reads of the summer. I’ve really enjoyed the series to date and was ready to dive into this one and while I certainly enjoyed this one, I have to admit to being a tiny bit disappointed.
Having read the previous three books I was well aware of Kiera’s progress from insular artist to a confident investigator and I really appreciated the character growth that was conveyed in the previous three novels. Unfortunately for me, A Study in Death seemed a tad repetitive, covering much of the internal conflict that Kiera experienced in the previous book. Don’t get me wrong, I still really like the character of Kiera, but I don’t think there was much change in her in this book and I think that could have been better compensated by a stronger mystery.
In A Study in Death Lady Darby is investigating the probable murder of Lady Drummond, who’s portrait Kiera was commissioned to paint. Naturally, Kiera enlists the help of her new fiance and seasoned investigator, Sebastian Gage. Kiera is quick to turn her attention to Lady Drummond’s husband, who is by all accounts a brute, forcing Kiera to revisit her own past and her relationship with her own abusive late husband. No one is convinced that Lady Drummond was murdered, but Kiera is relentless and refuses to back down even when she is forced to consider a less obvious suspect for the murder.
In addition to murder, Kiera is also dealing with her sister Alana’s complicated and dangerous pregnancy as well as signs of stress in Alana’s solid marriage. Then there’s Kiera’s introduction to her future father-in-law, who is less than pleased with his son’s engagement and has no problem sharing that fact with Kiera. And on top of that, Gage still has not told Kiera the events that scarred him in Greece, something that Kiera was insistent on knowing in the previous book.
So while the mystery was certainly central to A Study in Death, there was a lot of other stuff going on as well. I, of course, enjoyed the character-focused plot that has been so central to this series, but as I mentioned, I did feel that it was repetitive in this book. In the previous book, Kiera struggled with her feelings for Gage. She wasn’t sure she could trust him and she was deeply affected by her relationship with her late husband. While I didn’t anticipate that Kiera would (or should) be unaffected by her past relationship, I was disappointed that she continued to bring up the same issues. Kiera continued to leery of marriage in general and took it out on Gage most of the time, all the while demanding he tell her the secrets of his “past”. For me, this repetitiveness makes me see A Study in Death as more of a “filler” book in the series and I feel that the pace will pick up once readers are treated to Kiera and Gage’s married life and seeing how these two interact with each other on a daily basis.
Overall, A Study in Death was a good read, but I didn’t think it was the best in the series. The unique Lady Darby continues to impress and I will be back for the next book, I can only hope that Kiera and Gage’s marriage will bring a much-needed change in pace and tone to the series.
For similar reads, check out my review of the previous book, A Grave Matter.