Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review - Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave

Silent in the Grave: Lady Julia Book 1 by Deanna Raybourn
Published by: Mira
Publication Date: December 1st, 2007
Format: Paperback, 435 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Buy
Lady Julia Grey meets Nicholas Brisbane for the first time the night her husband Edward dies suddenly. Edward was always a frail man with lingering health problems, so it wasn't a surprise. Julia knew her entire life that Edward would die young. Yet Nicholas Brisbane thinks that Edward may have been hastened to the grave. Edward hired Nicholas before his death because he had been receiving death threats, and discreetly looking into matters of this nature is what Nicholas does. When Nicholas brings this information to Julia, she pushes it aside, not believing that foul play is at work here, only bad genetics. Nicholas' heir, his cousin Simon, is also dying under Julia's roof from the same health complications.

A year later Julia changes her mind about Edward's death. While finally cleaning out his study she stumbles upon one of these death threats and realizes the vitriol that was spewed forth and that perhaps Brisbane was right. Rushing to hire him, she is met with a man who is now all objections. Nicholas Brisbane says it's been too long, there is no chance, yet Julia pushes. Finally they agree to work the case together. Despite many acquaintances and Julia's large and eccentric family, the killer might be closer than either of them thought. Dealing with dangerous Romanies, health complications, degenerate footmen, and an unwelcome feathered visitor, is what it will take to find the answer to the death of Edward Grey. The clues are all there if only Julia would see.

I am sick of widows! No, seriously people. Stop having widows be the heroines of your Victorian series. This is symptomatic of an underlying genre crutch. A woman of this time period would have no independence unless she was widowed, therefore, windows run wild. I really don't think there could possibly be that many widows solving crime during the reign of Queen Victoria. Or that many husbands conveniently dying to have this many windows. Just take window add single, slightly unsavory man, have them solve some crime, if it's the first in the series, have them solve the death of window's husband, and viola. I picked up Silent in the Grave because felicitously I had it on my shelf and it was the book for my Vaginal Fantasy Hangout Book Club in February. Let's put it this way... I was so dispirited by the formulaic nature of the book that I didn't join in the discussion on our book club night and in fact opted to do homework. Yes, I chose homework versus talking about a book. There is a first time for everything.

There where many non-conventional elements that I liked. Julia's eccentric family that has been very odd for centuries, and willing accepts that being gay is just what you are. No one offers any objections to her sister's lifestyle, which is oddly refreshing. Also the underlying Romany Culture was fascinating and, I will admit, will entrance me almost every time. Add in just a dash of mysticism, and I'm hooked. So, there where things that made this book unique, just not enough.

Now let me get to Nicholas. Ah, Mr. Brisbane. You are unkempt, ill mannered, have a few dark secrets, have multiple addictions to illicit substances, really have nothing that would appeal to a woman, and have more than a few things in common with Sherlock Holmes. In fact, it's rather odd HOW much you have in common with Sherlock Holmes... in fact, the Robert Downey Junior version to be precise. I don't know if it was coincidence, or if the newest Sherlock Holmes was just borrowing heavily from this book, which came out two years prior to the movie... but there where so many similarities I was shocked. The smokey/purple glasses where the first hint, then the fight in the Romany tent... WOW. It was quite literally the fight at the beginning of Sherlock Holmes... so, here you go, Nicholas Brisbane in the living flesh, glasses and all:

There is only one mystery left to solve. Will I pick up the next one? Probably. I now have no expectations, so perhaps I will enjoy it more.


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