Friday, July 18, 2014

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour Author Guest Post & Giveaway: A Grave Matter (Lady Darby #3) by Anna Lee Huber

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her dear friend, Lady Kiera Darby is in need of a safe haven. Returning to her childhood home, Kiera hopes her beloved brother Trevor and the merriment of the Hogmanay Ball will distract her. But when a caretaker is murdered and a grave is disturbed at nearby Dryburgh Abbey, Kiera is once more thrust into the cold grasp of death.

While Kiera knows that aiding in another inquiry will only further tarnish her reputation, her knowledge of anatomy could make the difference in solving the case. But agreeing to investigate means Kiera must deal with the complicated emotions aroused in her by inquiry agent Sebastian Gage.

When Gage arrives, he reveals that the incident at the Abbey was not the first—some fiend is digging up old bones and holding them for ransom. Now Kiera and Gage must catch the grave robber and put the case to rest…before another victim winds up six feet under.

How President Lincoln inspired the plot of A Grave Matter
by Anna Lee Huber

When I was brainstorming ideas for the plot of Lady Darby Book 3, I knew I wanted to utilize the beautiful and melancholy Dryburgh Abbey near where I had set Kiera, Lady Darby's childhood home in the Border region of Scotland.  I'd been fortunate enough to visit the site in the autumn of 2010 and instantly fell in love with the crumbling ruins.  However, I needed to come up with a unique twist to a crime happening there, ad I found it in a somewhat unlikely source: by watching a documentary on President Abraham Lincoln.  

I was surprised to learn that in 1876 there had been a plot to steal Lincoln's corpse from its grave in Springfield, IL.  Apparently, a gang of Chicago counterfeiters decided to steal Lincoln's body and ransom it back to the governor of Illinois in exchange for $200,000 and a full pardon for their best engraver of counterfeit plates, who was locked up in prison.  Luckily an informant for the Secret Service became involved with the plot and was able to tip off the authorities to the plan.  

I found the entire caper to be fascinating, and a light bulb went off inside my head.  In the time and place in which I've set my stories - 1830 Scotland - body snatching was a viable, thought criminal, profession, and a terrible problem for authorities and upstanding citizens.  Resurrectionists, as they were called, would steal recently buried corpses and sell them to anatomy schools for the modest sum of 8-10 guineas, depending on how fresh the body was an whether it had any interesting abnormalities.  But how much more could a grave robber hope to make by ransoming the body of a loved one back to their wealthy family?  

Considering the predominant beliefs of the time - that a person could not rise from the dead on Judgment Day if they were not buried whole in consecrated ground - most people would be frantic to get their relative's remains back, and willing to pay far more than a few guineas.  The endeavor would also be less taxing, dangerous, and messy for the body snatchers.  By 1830, the public had become wise to the ways of resurrectionists and begun to take precautions to protect the bodies of the recently deceased until they were too decomposed to be of any use to the anatomy schools.  But a body long past that state, perhaps even deteriorated so far that it was no more than bones, would not be guarded.  Bagging up a pile of bones from an old grave was far easier than transporting a heavy, stinking corpse under close surveillance.  

It seemed feasible that an intelligent body snatcher might become wise to such a ploy.  After just a few successful ransoms, an entire team of resurrectionists could earn enough money to live comfortably for decades, so long as they didn't become too greedy.  And thus the plot of A Grave Matter - how apropos - was born.  

Anna Lee Huber is the Award-Winning and National Bestselling Author of the Lady Darby Mystery Series. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated summa cum laude from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana, and when not working on her next book she enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family. 

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have 1 paperback copy of A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber to give away to one of my lucky readers!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and be sure to keep checking back for more awesome giveaways!

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Anonymous said...

Hallo, Hallo Marie! :)

I am so happy to have found a cosy reader's blog, as I personally have been reading cosies since I was a wee lass! I grew up on Agatha Christie, you see, and I always had a penchant for murder mysteries on television! :) I have been steadily reading "The Anatomist's Wife" since July began, even though I have tried to read it since June! Life sweeps me away, which is why I had tweeted that I read it 'every stolen minute I can' as I am thus entranced by its story! I *love!* how an artist starts out as a medical illustrator and is then turnt into an examiner or investigator. Depending on how you read it. Lady Darby is definitely a new cosy heroine that I am loving the ability to read through my local library and to find a bookaway for her third release is quite a charming bit of joy, I think! :) I'm going to be following your blog and your feeds on Twitter! Perhaps we can have a lovely random bookishly cozy chat sometime!? I have read a few cosy historicals you might be keen to check out as well, as they're listed under my Story Vault. By the way, I am also seriously addicted to the Coffeehouse mysteries! I found "Holiday Grind" at my library and have been attempting to read the series ever since! One day! :)

Do you also read Tasha Alexander's "Lady Emily" series? I need to get back into that one at some point, and I finally re-ILL'd Simone St. James's "The Haunting of Maddy Clare"!!

-- Ms. Huber,

I love how you 'think' out the plots for Lady Darby! As I draw closer to knitting together my impressions of "The Anatomist's Wife" I'll have to reveal why all of this is not only fascinating to me, but how I came to love Forensic Science! This entire Guest Post has me encouraged as I had foresaid via Twitter, my lovely library ordered Book Three: A Grave Matter before I placed the purchase REQ - where happily I knew I would be reading *all!* three novels in a short distance of each other! I never thought there might be a bookaway! A bit of an unexpected joy discovering that today! And, what interesting history -- from Lincoln to grave robbers to bones settling into bags and carted off to unknown places! Ooh, I am loving "A Grave Matter" already! :)

You have the innate ability to reveal 'just enough' information to formulate what we need to know and how we need to visualise not only the angst but the emotional intensity of the situations found in your novels to where we are able to process everything without feeling overwhelmed. You even knit in the psychological and sociological angle of understanding the mind of a nefarious criminal who has no remorse and only acts on his own selfish needs and wants. It is a deft hand that can find the balance and I am celebrating your work each time I soak into a 'new' chapter of "The Anatomist's Wife",... although that one lightning storm pushed me a bit to think perhaps I ought not sit so close to a window?

I always appreciate Guest Posts & Interviews with Authors as I host them myself -- they give us a further glimpse behind the stories and insight into how a writer approaches their craft! I shall be thinking on this essay as I read the novel it inspired! Which of course you'll know about as my feeds on Twitter will start to light up with the joy of it being read! :)

A full heart of gratitude is given to you both equally!

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