Thursday, March 19, 2009

Silent In The Grave by Deanne Raybourn


Victorian England in the year 1886, and Lady Julia grey is about to hostess a dinner party at her elegant home, but her husband, despite her urging him to get up, chooses this moment to crumple onto the floor and die. Most inconvenient.

Sir Edward Grey was always distant and secretive, and he did suffer from a heart complaint, so although his demise is regretable, it is not exactly unexpected or particularly tragic. After all everyone knew Edward suffered from, 'The Curse of the Greys'.

One of the guests at the dinner party is Nicholas Brisbane, a mysterious character who tries to tell Lady Julia that there is more to Sir Edward's death than an hereditary illness, but she is not willing to listen.

Lady Julia is one of ten children and her family, including her father, Lord March and her brother, Lord Belmont descend upon her to help with the funeral.

One female relative nicknamed, "The Ghoul", is obsessed with funerals and attends them all, relatives, friends and strangers alike. She arrives at the Grey London mansion prepared for an indefinite stay. Lady Julia's family overwhelm her and begin to bully her as to how she should conduct herself as a widow, but when she discovers Sir Edward was far wealthier than she imagined, and kept her short of money during their marriage, Julia is determined to control her own destiny.

Lady Julia feels little sorrow for her late husband, but as the months pass, begins to worry that perhaps Mr Brisbane has a point and her husband could have been murdered after all. Together, the pair set about investigating Sir Edward's death and discover all sorts of secrets, not only about Julia's late husband, but about Nicholas Brisbane too.

An enchanting, well plotted and witty story this is, with some fascinating characters and authentic in it's colourful details of Victorian London.

This book is the first in a series with the characters of Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane. The sequel, Silent in The Sanctuary, and Silent In The Moor, both of which I anticipate with pleasure.