A Wicked Conceit by Anna Lee Huber
Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Lady Darby #9
Publication Date: 4/6/21
Number of Pages: 384
OMGoodness. This exciting book stays with you long after you have read the last words – especially since the setting is during the cholera pandemic of the 1830’s – and we’re living with the COVID pandemic of the 2020s. The writing is superb, and the plot is tight, well-developed, and well-delivered. Then, of course, we have all of the characters we have grown to know and love. This author’s knowledge of, research of, and delivery of historical reality during that period is absolutely flawless – you feel as if you were living the tale right along with the characters in the book.
Keira and Gage have returned to Edinburg for the delivery of their first child only to find that they are, again, embroiled in a scandal. Someone has written a book – a very, very popular book that has also been made into plays featured at the various theaters around Edinburg. The book’s main character is Bonnie Brock Kincaid, but Gage and Keira are featured as well – and the image is not at all flattering. The book intimates that the child Keira is carrying is Bonny Brock’s and not Gage’s. Of course, everyone who knows Keira and Gage knows that isn’t the case, but that doesn’t stop the gossip, the snide comments, the cuts, and the sneers. After the end of Kiera’s scandalous first marriage to an anatomist, she is no stranger to the gossip – but that doesn’t make it any easier. It is unfair to her, to Gage, to her sister and brother-in-law – just unfair and they need to find this author, Nathan Mugdock, and get him to share the name of his source.
Super secretive, super-criminal, Bonnie Brock Kincade is incensed at the book that has been written because it has some secrets in it – some known by only a handful of people. Since he isn’t the source, nor is his sister or his two trusted henchmen, that only leaves two people who could have shared those secrets – Keira and/or Gage. Shortly after their arrival in Edinburg, Brock menacingly confronts them about sharing such personal information. They, of course, deny having shared anything and vow they’re going to find and stop whoever has provided the information because much of the book presents them as well as Brock in a very bad light.
Things get really tense as they try to find out the author’s true identity. The only person who actually knows is the publisher of the book, Mr. Rookwood. Rookwood refuses to share the identity of the author – and when he is brutally murdered, any chance of finding the author dies with him.
Keira and Gage must continue to investigate – not only for themselves, but the book is also causing much unrest in Edinburg. Rival gangs to Brock’s are feeling emboldened and crime is increasing. With the specter of a sequel to be published and even more incendiary, outlandish, and untrue tales to be told, Edinburg could find itself in the middle of riots as well as a Cholera epidemic.
While the investigation puts both Keira and Gage at great risk, they still have family issues plaguing them. Will they – and/or their marriage – manage to survive both the investigation and the family issues?
This is an absolutely riveting book and I highly recommend it.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.