Book ReviewSilent in the Grave

Reviewer's Rating: 
I truly enjoyed this book...and yet, it failed to rock my world because (see explanation in review).
Mira Books, 2007

BOOK ONE: LADY JULIA GREY.  "Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave."  These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a longstanding physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

Over the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I read this first book in the Lady Julia Grey series and I must say, it was quite enjoyable.  There were a few factors that intrigued me to pick it up and give it a go.  First, these are Victorian era murder mysteries.  I was curious how the restrictions placed upon women would play out for Lady Julia - would the author be lenient or by the book so to speak for the times of her setting.  Deanna chose to stay solidly true to the times and doing so meant the bendables of fiction could stray in other areas instead.

What was most lovely in this book was the pacing.  There is murder, there is investigation, there are false roads and lucrative clues but it is all done in a somewhat meandering fashion.  Unable to do some of the investigating herself, Julia has to sit back and let her partner, Nicholas, do the dirty work.  It felt like a day-to-day peek at a true London Lady's habits and duties.  You  might think it would make the story drag, but again, reading this type of book during a hectic holiday made the meandering pace a sweet balance for me.

What stayed with me long after I finished this novel were the characters.  I swear Deanna has a shirt that says, "Be nice to me or I'll write you into my next book."  Both Lady Julia and Nicholas read like real people - flesh and bones, strengths and imperfections, having good days and bad days people even to the extent we know what kind of breakfast eggs Lady Julia prefers!  I like that she is both naive and intelligent.  Granted, her naivete is ripped away as the revelations crash upon her of what her husband was up to before his demise.  That ripping was true for me as well (I'd hoped he was murdered for simple financial reasons).  That aspect of the plot was a bit dark and dingy for me which dropped my perfect 5 boxes of love to a 4, but the good writing, meandering pace and good clean characters place it squarely in a good category.

As for the romance factor between Nicholas and Lady Julia, it was very slow and next to non-existent.  But the groundwork has been built for a potential romance which  I hope is explored more in book two.

This is a chunky book, not a one-night paperback read, but this makes it solidly enjoyable.

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