“Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.”
These ominous words 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.
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, 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.
I’ve had Deanna Raybourn on my radar and to-read list for awhile. Most recently I was looking forward to her new Veronica Speedwell (adventurous heroine!) series after I heard her describing it on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books podcast. After checking my library, I’m on the waiting list for A Curious Beginning but Silent in the Grave was available so I started the Lady Julia Grey series. (I love Overdrive—free ebooks to read in just a few clicks!)
The book starts with the death of Lady Julia Grey’s husband (it’s in the blurb so I’m not spoiling anything!) and the introduction of Nicholas Brisbane, the hero(?). The whole story is told from Julia’s perspective. The story was pretty slow going to me for the first third to half as Julia is in the one-year mourning period for her husband, trying to figure out her next steps after her mourning ends, and fighting her natural instincts to rebel against society’s rules and misbehave. A discovery in her husband’s office leads her back to Brisbane and chasing a murderer.
Brisbane, an investigator, is a complicated dude and reluctant to include Julia in any search. He definitely seems like he’s trying to protect Julia from himself and from trouble. Some of his background is revealed in the story as well as difficulties he’s facing. He fights his attraction to Julia and is “trying to do the right thing”.
If you’re looking for hot romance with sexy times and a HEA (happily ever after) in book 1, this isn’t for you. But I definitely sense an intense, angsty (OMG, will they or won’t they?!), budding romance in progress—just not getting there anytime soon. They don’t discuss their feelings for each other but there are some longing gazes and one interlude that’s not explicitly described.
My favorite part of the story was the secondary characters. Julia’s family, her butler Aquinas, the pets, and Monk were delightful. I love stories with big families and in addition to being big, Julia’s family is super eccentric and interesting. Her father seems incredibly unconventional for the time period and it was great how disappointed he was with his well-behaved children. He wanted more craziness! Julia’s sister Portia is awesome. I like the simultaneous acceptance of her relationship from most of her family while acknowledging challenges they faced (unfortunately similar to what they could face today).
I enjoyed this book especially as events started working towards the conclusion. The mystery was satisfactorily resolved and nice and twisty. Deanna Raybourn successfully steered me towards several possible murderers before the dramatic reveal. I read book 2 of the series and am reading book 3, Silent on the Moor. It reminds me a lot of C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr series as far as the historical setting, mystery plot, and a potential romance.