Author: Deanna Raybourn
Published: 2007, Mira
Silent in the Grave opens with Julia March's husband dropping dead while hosting a party. Julia is bereaved, but the death is not unexpected, as his health has been poor all life. So she is surprised when Nicholas Brisbane comes to call and tells her that he suspects foul play. Apparently Mr. March had hired Brisbane, who is a private investigator, shortly before his death because he was receiving notes that amounted to death threats. Julia cannot believe it, gets snippy with Brisbane, and sends him on his way. A year later, when she is just starting to put off her widow's weeds, she finds one of the notes that Brisbane told her of while she is clearing out her husband's office; it contains a line from the Bible:
Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon Thee; let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.Julia contacts Brisbane and asks that he take up the case, even though now that a year has passed he has little hope of discovering anything. She's not content to let him do all the work, however, and she takes an active part in the investigation.
I started this book one day at work when I realized that I'd left the book I was in the middle of at home. I had no lunch plans and no book to read. Quelle nightmare! Good thing I work in a library. ;) I noticed this one among the new gifts and decided to give it a try. It's a bit of a tome in hardcover, but it was one of those books that once I'd started, the pages just flew by.
The Victorian setting was really well done. Julia is an aristocrat (her father is an Earl), so her life is very restricted by social conventions, but her family is also known for being quite liberal, and consequently a bit risqué. Julia struggles with what she feels is her inherent March "wildness" and her desire for a normal, traditional life. I loved the interaction of Julia with her family—there were some really funny parts.
The suspense was great--lots of surprising revelations that had Julia (and me) quite shocked. HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER! I was disappointed by who the murderer was, though. Simon had been so angelically good through the whole book, and then at the end he was just evil all of a sudden. No warning or clues to lead up to it. It was a little too abrupt for me.
I was not a huge fan of the brooding, mysterious Brisbane and the romantic elements of the story. (This is surprising, yes? I am nearly always a fan of the romantic bits.) Though he seems to be an interesting character, I definitely never felt like I got a grip on him (which was maybe intentional, as he is supposed to be mysterious). Anyway, I'm planning on getting the sequel, Silent in the Sanctuary, so maybe he will grow on me.