Saturday, 10 July 2010

Silent in the Grave

Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery
Pages: 435
Published: 2006
Series: 1st book in the Lady Julia Grey series
Series Order:
  1. Silent in the Grave
  2. Silent in the Sanctuary
  3. Silent on the Moor

First Line: "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."

Synopsis: As the book opens we find Lady Julia Grey's husband, Edward, wildly convulsing on the floor. In rushes servants as well as Nicholas Brisbane who was a guest at dinner. When Edward dies Julia goes through the typical one year mourning period as is expected of her. As that period comes to an end, the mysterious Nicholas Brisbane comes to Julia and tells her that he believes that her husband was murdered. As Julia and Brisbane delve into the mystery Julia learns that her husband's murder isn't just a parlour game and that her life may be at stake. With the help of Brisbane, Julia learns more about her husband's death, what he secretly did in his life and learns more about herself in the process.

My Thoughts: Above I typically quote the first line of the book just for fun. This time I added the second line as well because I think that these are awesome opening lines and really sets the humourous tone of the book!

This book is set during the time of Queen Victoria's reign (lots of corsets and societal rules) but isn't a stuffy read at all. It is filled with a delicious sense of humour that is dry and, at times, self-deprecating ... my favourite kind! I giggled out loud in several parts and re-read many passages just because I wanted to giggle again at Raybourn's wonderful choice of words.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a silly mystery book. Quite the opposite, actually. It's much more of an intelligent read than I was expecting. It is cleverly written with many references to the culture of the time, Greek mythology and books. These references really add to the feel of the book. I love the fact that Raybourn doesn't 'dumb down' her book and assumes that her audience is intelligent to follow along or, in my case, look up items/words that are a little foreign to them!

This book also had a wonderfully refreshing vocabulary. Bravo to Ms. Raybourn for getting me to look up words. With my iPhone in hand (and it's trusty dictionary app) I had to look up several words that were new to me (look at me learn'in!). From "epicene" (feminine, unmanly) to saturnine (sluggish, gloomy, taciturn), reticule (small purse or bag) and majordomo (man in charge of a great household; a chief steward) I learned many new words.

As for the mystery/suspense part of the book? It was very well done. I do admit that half way through it did get a bit dodgy and slowed down a little too much. Raybourn it seems can get a little too verbose when describing type of lace on some curtains or how a dress hangs on a lady which, to me, isn't all that riveting. But she quickly picked up the pace and had me at the edge of my seat.

There are LOTS of twists and turns in this book. I was constantly re-evaluating whom I thought could have killed Edward when Raybourn throws a totally different set of possibilities to the reader and changes everything.

The March family is a quirky set of characters who strive to be different from the stuffy confines that society typically puts on the idle rich. From her forward thinking father, to the "Ghoulish" cousin who overstays her welcome at the homes of family members who have lost loved ones, to her numerous brothers and sisters the secondary characters are quite varied and really add to the storyline.

Lady Julia is a spirited and impetuous young woman who has enough spunk to get herself into some trouble but not enough to be annoying. She is a very likeable character and I look forward to seeing how her relationship with Bribane continues. I also like the fact that Raybourn didn't rush this (I assume) budding romance. She didn't plop them into bed at the first opportunity but is biding her time and building more intrigue around this couple.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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