Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Review--Silent in the Grave, by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave is a thrilling Victorian mystery that begins with one of the best novel openers I’ve ever read: "To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor." From there, I knew I was going to be in for quite a ride. And Deanna Raybourn does not disappoint.

No sooner is Sir Edward Gray dead then a mysterious stranger implies to his widow, Lady Julia, that her husband might have been murdered. A year later, Lady Julia unwittingly re-opens the case when she stumbles across a mysterious note shoved in a back drawer of his desk that awakens her curiosity. She and Nicholas Brisbane embark upon a dangerous search for the killer.

Don’t expect this to be your typical murder mystery. Everyone who lives in the Grey house has a secret to hide, not the least of whom was Sir Edward. I’ve read enough mysteries to flatter myself that I can figure out the solution to one before the denouement; but even I was unprepared for this one.

My only problem with this book is the fact that the characters seemed to be a little too modern. This may have had something to do with the fact that Lady Julia was raised in a highly unorthodox environment, but there were definitely some situations where my eyebrows were raised and I thought, "that really wouldn't have happened back then." Also, I found Julia’s actions questionable at times. It was rather like watching those horror movies where the killer is standing directly behind the heroine and she doesn’t see him until its too late. Julia, for all her intelligence, had those moments where she behaved incredibly stupidly, even for an amateur detective.

But nothing is as it seems in Silent In the Grave, and each chapter ends with a cliffhanger that leads you wanting to read more (even if it’s two am and you’re sleep deprived!). I literally did not want to put this novel down, and I eagerly look forward to reading the sequel, Silent in the Sanctuary. It’s difficult to believe, as Raybourn mentions in the introduction of Silent in the Grave, that it took two years for her agent to find a publisher for this book.

Also reviewed by: Reading Matters, A Garden Carried in the Pocket, Obsessed With Books, Historical Tapestry, Medieval Bookworm, S. Krishna's Books

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