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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review: Silent in the Grave

Silent in the GraveTitle: Silent in the Grave
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Page Count: 448 pages print length (384 KB Kindle length)
Publisher: Mira
Genre: historical mystery
Copy for review was purchased by me

50 words or less:  Lady Julia Grey never expected to be working side by side with Nicholas Brisbane to investigate her husband's murder.  Of course, she didn't expect a lot of things.  Didn't expect them at all.

I first heard about this book and this series from Twitter, and initially decided to check it out via the library.  I didn't get 50 pages in before I sprang for the whole series, that's how quickly the series sucked me in and didn't let me go.

Lady Julia is an interesting character.  She is, perhaps, the only traditional member of her highly non-traditional family, which makes her the subject of much amusement within her family circle.  When she fell in love with and married Edward Grey, by all accounts a social golden child, her family had reservations but wished her happiness. 

Happiness is not quite what she finds as a married woman; her husband is distant, her daily life banal, and her own nuclear family stays stubbornly at two members.  Even that insular world comes crashing down when her husband collapses, convulses, and dies in front of a houseful of guests at a dinner party.  Edward had apparently always had a frail constitution so everyone was, at first, content to write his death off as sadly early but truly inevitable and leave it at that.

That is the start of a twisty, windy misadventure that takes Julia down the rabbit hole of her late husband's secret life- a life that started before she came in the picture and continued right up until he gasped his last.  The first of many revelations was that Nicholas Brisbane, discreet private enquiry agent to the London aristocracy, was actually on the job when he assisted Edward in his final minutes at the dinner party, and Edward had hired him.

The evolving relationship between Nicholas and Julia is woven delicately into the backdrop of the story.  The focus is on the murder and the resolution of that story is the primary storyline, but there are others as well- what was Edward's big secret?  What's up with Julia's brother Val and the bloody clothes?  What's the deal with the gypsy maid and why did she have arsenic?  And don't forget Nicholas- the mysterious detective has a few secrets of his own.

I think my favorite subplot of the entire story was Julia's evolution as an individual- she went from being the only quiet, reserved member of the Marsh family to the respectable wife of Sir Edward Grey; either way, always defined by someone else.  As Julia unravels the mysteries that she didn't even know existed within her own life, she evolves into someone who is totally new on the scene- herself.

I was so excited to come upon this series with several installments already released.  I'm interested to read more about Julia and Nicholas and their future adventures.

Overall Grade: A
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