As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber
Berkley: July 5, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Free From Publisher
I’d go there again!
As Death Draws Near is the fifth outing in the Lady Darby historical mystery series. With this fifth book there is a bit of a change in the series now that Keira is married to inquiry agent Sebastian Gage. These two have come along way from the first book, when Gage suspected Keira of murder.
At the start of the book, Keira and Gage are enjoying an idyllic honeymoon (for details about their wedding, check out the novella, A Pressing Engagement). Unfortunately, Kiera and Gage’s well deserved vacation is interrupted when Gage’s father sends a request for both of them to investigate the murder in an abbey in Ireland. Not wanting to risk the local investigators forming biases based on the existing religious tensions in Ireland, Kiera and Gage set sail for Ireland. With the investigation underway, Kiera and Gage delve into local politics and the tense atmosphere of the region, which is only exacerbated when a second nun is found murdered. As Death Draws Near is another fantastic addition to the Lady Darby series. If you’re looking for a character-driven historical mystery series look no further. Kiera is a wonderful character; she’s quiet and full of her own insecurities. And, in those insecurities readers are treated to a fully fleshed out character. In this book in particular Kiera is struggling with her own desire to participate in these inquiries with Gage. While Gage has always given Kiera his support, she is only now realizing how her involvement in these investigations could impact their married life. What I like about how the author navigates this personal turmoil is that Kiera has to work this out herself. There is no indication that Gage has any qualms about Kiera participating in inquiries in their married life. Rather, the obstacles that Kiera sees are more self-imposed than anything. That’s not to say that the challenges aren’t real, they certainly are, but it’s Kiera’s own personality that causes her to develop anxieties. I love this level of detail in Kiera’s character development and I’m happy to say that it’s still evolving over the course of five books.
The historical aspect of As Death Draws Near is another great element of the book. The tension between religions in Ireland at this time are at a boiling point, and it is those tensions that directly impact the murders that Kiera and Gage are investigating. While I did have some awareness about this turmoil, I appreciated the level of detail that the author provided in explaining the historical context of the period. As usual, the historical atmosphere presented by the author is authentic and compelling.
As Death Draws Near is a stellar addition to the Lady Darby series that gives readers further insight into Huber’s heroine Kiera. With each book, Kiera has grown as an individual, finding strength after the abuses of her past. It is the evolution of this character that keeps me coming back – the mystery element is simply an added bonus for me.
If you like the dynamic between Kiera and Gage and the fact that they investigate crimes as a couple, then Tracy Grant’s Rannoch series is sure to appeal. Married spies, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch are always in the midst of a political crisis, and it often impacts their marriage, considering that at one point Malcolm and Suzanne were spies for opposing sides. Vienna Waltz was a great introduction to the series, and it’s still going strong with it’s latest installment, London Gambit.
For another married duo that solves crimes, C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr series is a must. While Sebastian and his wife Hero have had a turbulent road to marriage, it is clear that their marriage is now a strong one. Start with book one, What Angels Fear.
My last recommendation is perhaps less obvious. Murder at the Brightwell is a historical mystery series set during the 1940s featuring a rich and lonely wife, Amory Ames. While this series is much lighter in tone and content, I think the conflict in Amory’s personal life will appeal to fans of Lady Darby. And, I have high hopes that Amory and her disreputable husband Milo will eventually develop the sort of partnership that is evident between Gage and Kiera.