Even a remote Scottish castle in the 1830s is not far enough removed from society to shield a talented artist from her fearsome reputation.
Since the death of her husband, Lady Kiera Darby has been living with her sister Alana and her brother-in-law Philip quietly painting. After her husband forced Kiera to illustrate an anatomical book he was writing, the recent Burke and Hare scandal caused people to look upon Kiera with fear and loathing when her part in the book was revealed. After 16 peaceful months, Alana invites a diverse group of titled friends to a house party only to find one of them, Lady Godwin, stabbed in the garden. When several of the assembled company immediately accuse Kiera, Philip asks houseguest Sebastian Gage, whose father is a noted investigator, to look into the crime, forcing Kiera to work with him. Her unwelcome expertise shows that not only was Lady Godwin’s throat slit; someone cut a child out of her womb. Since Lord Godwin has long been away in India, the sleuthing pair look elsewhere for the father of the child. They soon learn that Lady Godwin had spread her favors among many men. Kiera is attracted to Gage even though she does not know whether he regards her as a suspect. She does know that it will be no easy task to solve the crime in the four days before the fiscal prosecutor arrives, given that most of the guests have already identified Kiera as the killer.
Huber’s debut, first in a planned series, reads like a cross between a gothic novel and a mystery with a decidedly unusual heroine.