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Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourn

LoisAnn
Reader
Location: Marlow, Oklahoma

Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourn

Postby LoisAnn » Tue August 26th, 2008, 4:15 pm

This is a great book & I give it highest recommendations. Ms. Raybourn writes with a delicate sense of humor and a deft turn of phrase. This is an intelligently written book for the intelligent reader. For one thing, I love that each chapter begins with a quote or bit of poem or old proverb that gives the slightest forshadow of the chapter to come.

As for the setting, the reader gets a good solid understanding of the environment of 1880's London, England, i.e., lifestyle, clothing fashions, food, customs, etiquette, etc., without being beat over the head with heavy-handed explanations and/or descriptions.

The two leading characters - Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane - are simply marvelous. The tension between them is palpable and very well developed. The intellectual tension between them is every bit as fun and intriguing as the physical attraction. Both characters are multi-layered and Ms. Raybourn does an excellent job in showing us glimpses of the past experiences, background, hopes, failures, etc. that motivate them and make them who they are.

And the book is peppered with a supporting cast of characters that is second to none and enhances the book's overall charm, warmth and depth. Included are Lady Julia's nine eccentric and wildly different siblings, her father (who is delightful), her aunts (one of whom is referred to as the Ghoul), Brisbane's manservant/confidant, and his former mistress who is now a dear friend of Lady Julia's.

But don't think for a minute this is a light-hearted, slapstick kind of book. Quite the contrary. Ms. Raybourn weaves a tight plot with several intertwining threads that all reach a very satisfying conclusion ... although one that leaves the reader wanting more ... which Ms. Raybourn supplies in the sequel - Silent in the Sanctuary.

Historical mysteries are favorites of mine and I have read books by many authors within this broad genre, including such authors as Patricia Finney (aka P.F. Chisholm), Will Thomas, Jacqueline Winspear, Rhys Bowen, Victoria Thompson and Priscilla Royal. I happily rank Ms. Raybourn among the top two or three.

From setting to characters to plotline(s) to dialogue, I just can't find too much wrong with this book. Ms. Raybourn writes with a confident grace and style that is never forced and very enjoyable to read.

Highest recommendation.
Last edited by LoisAnn on Fri March 27th, 2009, 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. ~ Charles de Secondat

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diamondlil
Bibliomaniac

Postby diamondlil » Sat August 30th, 2008, 11:35 pm

"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.




Just recently I seem to have been reading a few historical mysteries set in Victorian times. The fact that they have all featured young women as the heroines, and that two of the three heroines were young widows is probably nothing more than a coincidence right? Fortunately, regardless of that very superficial similarity to Tasha Alexander's And Only to Deceive (which I haven't yet reviewed, but very much enjoyed), they are both very different books.

Silent in the Grave opens with the death of Lady Julia Grey's husband Edward. Edward and Julia had grown up together, and when he proposed Julia was happy to enter into a marriage with a man that she knew that she liked, even if there was no great love story between them. And she was basically happy. She knew that Edward suffered from what was considered a family affliction - a weak heart, so when Edward suffers a fatal attack in the midst of a dinner party, she is of course upset. However, when she is approached by Mr Nicholas Brisbane, an investigator her husband had hired to look into a matter for him, and Mr Brisbane suggests that Edward may have been murdered, Julia thinks that there could be nothing further from the truth and dismisses his claim.

A year later, Julia has been in full mourning for the whole period, and is looking forward to the day when she go into half mourning, even knowing that she will shock some of the more traditional members of her family who expect her to remain in mourning forever. When she goes into Edwards office, she is surprised to find something that confirms Nicholas' suspicions of the previous year and therefore approaches him to open an investigation into Edward's death. Nicholas does not want to get involved, knowing that the trail of the killer, if there is one, is well and truly cold, but eventually Julia convinces him to investigate, with her assistance of course.

What follows is the upheaval of everything that Julia thought to be true about her husband and her marriage, and indeed some of the people still living within her household.

The dynamic between Julia and Nicholas is intense to say the least.

She is determined to shake off her staid and obedient persona that she had during her marriage and before, and be more wilful and independent, much to her father's pleasure. She has long been the most boring member of his family, the rest of whom are known to be somewhat eccentric.

Nicholas is my kind of man. He is dark and secretive, tormented and honourable, whilst still managing to skirt around the edge of many of society's rule. He is not who he at first appears to be, and as we get to know more about him, his background gives a terrific scope for both character and plot development.

In a way, Deanna Raybourn seems to come from the school of writing where there is a hook at the end of every chapter to try and keep you reading the next chapter, and the next chapter and the next. Even the very last line of the book is a hook to get you to pick up the next book. What can I say other than she caught me! I can't wait to read the next book!

This was a terrific read, lots of twists and turns along the way to a very interesting conclusion. It features two very interesting characters, with a good array of secondary characters, my favourite of which was the butler who was a former circus performer, and a really strong story.

Highly recommended!

By the way, Deanna Raybourn has an entertaining blog that you may wish to take a look at.

One thing that is a little strange is that my library doesn't appear to have the second book in the series just yet. They do however have a book called Pesthouse on order, but I can't find any reference to a book with this title anywhere else! Luckily, my work has just moved and I now work about five minutes from a library. I know that they have this book on their catalogue. I might just have to join up so that I can borrow it! Either that or ask my current library to hurry up and get the second book!

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Fri March 27th, 2009, 4:32 am

I'm moving this book up on my TBR. Our own Moseyer just gave it a top notch review at http://www.HistoricalNovels.info. It sounds like a page-turner and an absolute delight. And Raybourn has just published #3 in the series, Silent on the Moor.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: The Road To Newgate by Kate Braithwaite & Darling Blue by Tracy Rees (Pigeonhole)
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favorite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Postby Vanessa » Fri March 27th, 2009, 8:37 am

I have this on my TBR pile, so your review is very encouraging, LoisAnn.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Postby Madeleine » Fri March 27th, 2009, 8:25 pm

I have her first 2 books on my tbr pile, and the 3rd one on my wishlist.

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diamondlil
Bibliomaniac

Postby diamondlil » Fri March 27th, 2009, 10:11 pm

I just read the second one in this series, which I liked, although not quite as much as the first book. My library has finally ordered the second and third books (after I went and bought the second book...never mind) so I am hoping to get to the third one soonish! Deanna Raybourn has confirmed that the third book is not the last in the series which is good news.
My Blog - Reading Adventures

All things Historical Fiction - Historical Tapestry


There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

Edith Wharton

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sat March 28th, 2009, 9:06 pm

Posted by Diamondlil
They do however have a book called Pesthouse on order, but I can't find any reference to a book with this title anywhere else!


Is this a new HF, Lil? Jim Crace wrote a novel called "The Pesthouse" in 2007, but it's a post-apocalyptic story (though with medieval-regressive undertones).

Thanks for the review. Your review and Sue's one on HNI stirred my interest, so I've just picked up a copy from one of my favourite online auction sites, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

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diamondlil
Bibliomaniac

Postby diamondlil » Sat March 28th, 2009, 11:50 pm

I don't know. they have taken it down now, so maybe it was an earlier title that never got published or something.
My Blog - Reading Adventures



All things Historical Fiction - Historical Tapestry





There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.



Edith Wharton

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Sun March 29th, 2009, 1:12 am

The third mystery in this series has just come out. In order, the whole series currently consists of:

#1 Silent in the Grave (published 2007)
#2 Silent in the Sanctuary (published 2008)
#3 Silent on the Moor (published March 2009)
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

tsjmom
Reader

Postby tsjmom » Thu August 20th, 2009, 2:25 pm

Just finished this book. I thought it was decent - 3.5/5. I liked the twists and turns and the double exposure at the end (don't want to give anything away). While it was a fast read, I found myself skimming some parts as there was a lot, and I mean a lot, of superficial detail that made it longer than it needed to be.

Will I read her second novel? Probably at some point, but it's not high on my TBR list.


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