Book Review & Author Interview: ‘A Stroke of Malice’ (A Lady Darby Mystery) by Anna Lee Huber

A few years ago, someone recommended to me the very first Lady Darby Mystery book, The Anatomist’s Wife. The cover intrigued me a lot, so I bought it. And was hooked! I love discovering a new author and love even more that they have a back log of books I can binge on. So I set out to read everyone and I have! Each year I eagerly anticipate the next book in the series.

I am absolutely thrilled to have the author of the Lady Darby series, Anna Lee Huber, as a guest on my blog today! She has graciously consented to answer a few questions for us. So, settle in and visit with us a while. Hopefully, you’ll decide to begin the series. (I will say that these books need to be read in order.)

1. Can you tell us how the Lady Darby books were birthed?
Lady Darby actually began as a voice inside my head. I was working on another book at
the time, but this ‘person’ kept prodding at me in my subconscious, demanding I tell her
story. The first chapter of THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE is essentially me just letter her talk to
me. Then I had to stop and figure out who she was before I could go on. I wanted to
write a 19th century female sleuth who had skills to bear, in particular, medical know-
ledge, and I had to figure out a way for her to have acquired that expertise. Which is
how her backstory with her horrid first husband–a great anatomist—was born, as
well as her skill as a portrait artist.

2. Tell us what a writing day looks like for you.
Pre-pandemic, my optimal average day starts with getting my kindergartner up
and off to school, a short walk or run, and then diving into writing and other work.
I’m at my desk from around 8 am until 2:30 pm, with my husband and our babysitter
taking care of our 3 year old all morning until nap time. Then I get my 6 year old off
the bus and spend the afternoon with my girls. Mid-pandemic, I’m squeezing in writing
time however and whenever I can.

3. Are you a plotter or a by the seat of your pants writer?
I’m a bit of a mixture. I definitely plot. I can’t get past a few chapters without figuring
out where I’m going. But I do a relatively rough outline, hitting all the major points, and
a few minor ones between, as well as clues and red herrings. I figure out all of my
characters’ psychologies and their goals, motives and conflicts. Then I dive in and let
the story take me where it will. I’ve learned not to be afraid of letting things slide
in a different direction than I’d initially planned. Often those turn out to be the best
parts of the book.

4. How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me approximately 5-6 months, including research time. Then the rounds of
edits from my publisher come in later. And I’m often working on multiple projects
at once. Not writing the first drafts, but researching, plotting, editing, etc

5. A lot of authors have a picture in their minds how their characters look. Do you?
I do. Well, I have a very clear view of everyone except my heroines. I think because
I write in first person, so I’m writing from ‘inside their heads.’ They don’t often stand
in front of a mirror staring at themselves for me. So I know more what they feel like.
But I definitely have a clear view of the heroes and other characters. However, they
rarely, if ever, fit a known person’s appearance exactly. They’re largely made-up
whole cloth in my imagination. So I can say that Gage looks like a cross between
Rupert Penry-Jones and Simon Baker, and Sidney looks a bit like Aidan Turner,
but that’s about as close as I can get.

6. Will there be more Lady Darby books? Because I’m an addict.
Yes, Book 9–A WICKED CONCEIT- will release next spring. I’m working on it now.
It takes Kiera and Gage back to Edinburgh, and Bonnie Brock plays a major role. And I’m
contracted to write Books 10m and 11 for the following years. So there will be more
Lady Darby at least through 2023. My story in the DEADLY HOURS anthology releasing
on September 1st is also a Lady Darby novella, so readers will get more Kiera and Gage
(and Bonnie Brock) this autumn.

Oh thank goodness! And I loved Bonnie Brock’s character, so that’s great to hear. Thank you so much, Anna Lee, for joing us today and letting us into your head for a little bit.
I can’t wait for September.

About A Stroke of Malice:

Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are looking forward to celebrating with new friends at an exciting yearly soiree, but they soon learn that murder never takes a holiday in the latest riveting installment in this national bestselling series.

January 1832. After enjoying a delightful few weeks with her family, expectant mother Kiera and Sebastian Gage have been invited to the Duchess of Bowmontʼs Twelfth Night party in Traquair, Scotland. Though she normally avoids such fashionable, rambunctious events, Kiera is ready to join in the festive merrymaking. But upon their arrival at the opulent estate, it becomes obvious that all is not merry in their hostess’s home. The family appears to be under a great strain, and someone seems determined to cause mayhem among the guests with a series of forged notes.

Matters swiftly turn from irksome to downright deadly when the partygoers stumble upon a decomposing body in the castle’s crypt. The corpse is thought to be the duchess’s son-in-law who had purportedly traveled to Paris more than a month earlier. It is evident the man met with foul play, and Kiera and Gage soon realize that a ruthless murderer walks among them—and may well be a member of the duchessʼs own family. And when the investigation takes a treacherous turn, Kiera discovers just how deep the killer is willing to dig to keep their secrets from ever seeing the light of day.

About Anna Lee Huber
Anna Lee Huber is the Daphne award-winning author of the national bestselling Lady Darby Mysteries, the Verity Kent Mysteries, the Gothic Myths series, and the forthcoming anthology The Deadly Hours. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in music and minored in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana with her family and is hard at work on her next novel. Visit her online at

My Rating: 4 Stars!
When I read Anna Lee Huber’s very first Lady Darby mystery, I was hooked, and I eagerly await each next book in the series. I have never been disappointed. In this eighth book in the series, Sebastian and Kiera Gage are happy to be celebrating the new year with friends in 1832. But, as always happens when they are around, a dead body turns up. Which means no relaxing holiday for them. So, together with Gage’s faithful valet, Anderly, and Kiera’s loyal maid, Bree, the inquiry agents make it their business to solve yet another gruesome murder. Only now, Kiera is six month’s pregnant and must take it easy, as she learns to her detriment in this sprawling castle in which they’ve been invited to and must now investigate the murder. And there are a host of suspects at the Duchess of Bowmont’s Twelfth Night Party!

Huber is very skillful at engaging her readers in each crime she invents for these wonderful books. I particularly enjoy being invited inside Lady Darby’s (Kiera’s) mind as she delves into the murders she and Gage solves. And then Huber takes us deeper and deeper into the lives of those invited to the party and we soon find out that nearly everyone had a motive for being the perpetrator of the deadly crime. And, of course, each book ends on a note that makes us eager to read the next book. If only it weren’t so long between them! Recommended.

*My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Buy it here:

4 thoughts on “Book Review & Author Interview: ‘A Stroke of Malice’ (A Lady Darby Mystery) by Anna Lee Huber”

  1. Great interview! I always enjoy finding out how another write works. It’s interesting how Lady Darby started. Some characters want to be heard. I just recently discovered this series, and I’ve loved every book I’ve read in it. I’m looking forward to this one.


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