The Dark Enquiry

The Dark Enquiry

by Deanna Raybourn

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The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn

Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves let alone Brisbane's private enquiry business.

Among the more unlikely clients is Julia's very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not wanting to be left out of anything concerning her beloved if eccentric family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation.

It leads to the exclusive Ghost Club, where the alluring Madame Seraphine holds evening séances. From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of dark deeds, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust.

Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, and bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont's sake and more they'll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets. The kind of secrets men will kill to keep

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460393970
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 09/14/2015
Series: A Lady Julia Grey Mystery , #5
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 74,136
File size: 624 KB

About the Author

A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio, where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation at the age of twenty-three, she wrote her first novel. After three years as a teacher, Deanna left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time.

Fourteen years and many, many rejections after her first novel, she signed two three-book deals with MIRA Books.

"Sex, lies and awesome clothing descriptions" is how one reader described Deanna's debut novel, Silent in the Grave, published in January 2007. The first in the Silent series, the book follows Lady Julia Grey as she investigates the mysterious death of her husband with the help of the enigmatic private inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. From the drawing rooms of the aristocracy to a Gypsy camp on Hampstead Heath, Silent in the Grave deftly captures the lush ambience of Victorian London.

The series continues with the second book, Silent in the Sanctuary (January 2008), a classic English country house murder mystery with a few twists and turns for Brisbane and Lady Julia along the way. Silent on the Moor (March 2009), set in a grim manor house on the Yorkshire moors, is the third adventure for Lady Julia and the mysterious Brisbane.

March 2010 saw a departure from the series with the release of The Dead Travel Fast, a mid-Victorian Gothic thriller that chronicles the adventures of novelist Theodora Lestrange as she leaves the safety and security of her Edinburgh home for the dark woods and haunted castles of Transylvania. Deanna turned once more to Lady Julia and her companions with Dark Road to Darjeeling (October 2010). With an exotic setting in the foothills of the Himalayas and the introduction of an arch-villain, Dark Road to Darjeeling is the most thrilling installment yet. The fifth book in the series, The Dark Enquiry, follows the return of Lady Julia and Brisbane to London for their most puzzling adventure yet. The Dark Enquiry hit the New York Times' Bestseller list the week before its official release.

Deanna plots her books from her home in Virginia. After one too many hot Texas summers, Deanna and her husband packed up their daughter and moved to the mid-Atlantic state, where they enjoy the fall leaves but deeply miss good Tex-Mex cooking.

Still Virginia has been good to this author. Deanna's novel Silent in the Grave won the 2008 RITA Award for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements and the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best First Mystery. The Lady Julia Grey series has been nominated for several other awards, including an Agatha, three Daphne du Mauriers, a Last Laugh, three additional RITAs, and two Dilys Winns. Dark Road to Darjeeling was also a finalist for the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Historical Mystery as well as a Romantic Reviews' finalist for Best Book of 2010.

You can find her blogging five days a week at, and be sure to sign up for her newsletter, check out her contests and book trailer videos, and catch her latest appearances at


Williamsburg, Virginia

Date of Birth:

June 17, 1968

Place of Birth:

Ft. Worth, Texas


B.A. in English and History, University of Texas at San Antonio, 1990

Read an Excerpt

I will sit as quiet as a lamb. —King John

London, September 1889

"Julia, what in the name of God is that terrible stench? It smells as if you have taken to keeping farm animals in here," my brother, Plum, complained. He drew a silk handkerchief from his pocket and held it to his nose. His eyes watered above the primrose silk as he gave a dramatic cough.

I swallowed hard, fighting back my own cough and ignoring my streaming eyes. "It is manure," I conceded, turning back to my beakers and burners. I had just reached a crucial point in my experiment when Plum had interrupted me. The table before me was spread with various flasks and bottles, and an old copy of the Quarterly Journal of Science lay open at my elbow. My hair was pinned tightly up, and I was swathed from shoulders to ankles in a heavy canvas apron.

"What possible reason could you have for bringing manure into Brisbane's consulting rooms?" he demanded, his voice slightly muffled by the handkerchief. I flicked him a glance. With the primrose silk swathing the lower half of his face he resembled a rather dashing if unconvincing highwayman.

"I am continuing the experiment I began last month," I explained. "I have decided the fault lay with the saltpeter. It was impure, so I have decided to refine my own."

His green eyes widened and he choked off another cough. "Not the black powder again! Julia, you promised Brisbane."

The mention of my husband's name did nothing to dissuade me. After months of debating the subject, we had agreed that I could participate in his private enquiry investigations so long as I mastered certain essential skills necessary to the profession. A proficiency with firearms was numbered among them.

"I promised him only that I would not touch his howdah pistol until he instructed me in the proper use of it," I reminded Plum. I saw Plum glance anxiously at the tiger-skin rug stretched on the floor. Brisbane had felled the creature with one shot of the enormous howdah pistol, saving my life and killing the man-eater in as quick and humane a fashion as possible. My own experiences with the weapon had been far less successful. The south window was still boarded up from where I had shattered it when an improperly cured batch of powder had accidentally detonated. The neighbour directly across Chapel Street had threatened legal action until Brisbane had smoothed his ruffled feathers with a case of rather excellent Bordeaux.

Plum gave a sigh, puffing out the handkerchief. "What precisely are you attempting this time?"

I hesitated. Plum and I had both taken a role in Brisbane's professional affairs, but there were matters we did not discuss by tacit arrangement, and the villain we had encountered in the Himalayas was seldom spoken of. I had watched the fellow disappear in a puff of smoke and the experience had been singularly astonishing. I had been impressed enough to want some of the stuff for myself, but despite numerous enquiries, I had been unsuccessful in locating a source for it. Thwarted, I had decided to make my own.

"I am attempting to replicate a powder I saw in India," I temporised. "If I am successful, the powder will require no flame. It will be sensitive enough to ignite itself upon impact." Plum's eyes widened in horror.

"Damnation, Julia, you will blow up the building! And Mrs. Lawson dislikes you quite enough already," he added, a trifle nastily, I thought.

I bent to my work. "Mrs. Lawson would dislike any wife of Brisbane's. She had too many years of keeping house for him and preparing his puddings and starching his shirts. Her dislike of me is simple feminine jealousy."

"Never mind the fact that you have created a thoroughly mephitic atmosphere here," Plum argued. "Or perhaps it is the fact that you keep blowing out the windows of her house."

"How you exaggerate! I only cracked the first lot and the smoke damage is scarcely noticeable since the painters have been in. As far as the south window, it is due to arrive tomorrow. Besides, that explosion was hardly my fault. Brisbane did not explain to me that sulphur is quite so volatile."

"He is a madman," Plum muttered.

I pierced him with a glance. "Then we are both of us mad, as well. We work with him," I reminded him. "Why are you here?"

Plum snorted. "A happy welcome from my own sister."

"We are a family of ten, Plum. A visit from a sibling is hardly a state occasion."

"You are in a vile mood today. Perhaps I should go and come again when you have sweetened your tongue."

I carefully measured out a few grains of my newly formulated black powder. "Or perhaps you should simply tell me why you are here."

He gave another sigh. "I need to consult with your lord and master about the case he has set me. He wants me to woo the Earl of Mortlake's daughter with an eye to discovering if she is the culprit in the theft of Lady Mortlake's emeralds."

I straightened, intrigued in spite of myself. "That is absurd. Felicity Mortlake is a thoroughly nice girl with no possible motive to stealing her stepmother's emeralds. I am sure she will be vindicated by your efforts."

"That may be, but in the meantime, I have to secure for myself an invitation to their country seat to make a pretense of an ardent suitor. This would have been far easier during the season," he complained.

"Can you put the thing off?" I asked, wiping the powder from my hands with a dampened rag.

"Not likely. The emeralds are still missing, and Brisbane said Mortlake is getting impatient. Nothing has been proved of Felicity, but until his lordship knows something for certain, he cannot be assured of her innocence or guilt. One feels rather sorry for him. Of course, one ought rather to feel sorry for me. Felicity Mortlake detests me," he said, pulling a woeful face.

I felt a smile tugging at my lips. "Yes, I know." I remembered well the time she upended a bowl of punch over Plum's head in a Mayfair ballroom. Not his finest moment, but very possibly hers.

I bent again to my experiment. "The French now have a smokeless gunpowder," I mused, sulking a little, "and yet I still cannot manage to perfect this wretched stuff."

Plum edged towards the door. "You do not mean to light that," he said as I took up a match.

"Naturally. How else will I know if I am successful? You needn't worry," I soothed. "I have taken precautions this time," I added, gesturing towards the heavy apron I had tied over my oldest gown. I had already ruined three rather expensive ensembles with my experiments and had finally accepted the fact that fashion must give way to practicality when scientific method was employed.

"I am not thinking of your clothes," he protested, his voice rising a little as I struck the match and the phosphorus at the tip flared into life.

"If you are nervous, then wait outside. Brisbane will return shortly," I said.

"Brisbane has returned now," came the familiar deep voice from the doorway.

I looked up. "Brisbane!" I cried happily. And dropped the match.

The fact that the resulting explosion broke only one window did nothing to ameliorate my disgrace. Brisbane put out the fire wordlessly—or at least I think it was wordlessly. The explosion had left a distinct ringing in my ears. His mouth may have moved, but I heard nothing of what he might have said until we returned to our home in Brook Street that evening. Brisbane had ordered dinner served upon trays in our bedchamber, and I was glad of it. A long and fragrantly steamy bath had removed most of the traces of soot from my person, and as I approached the table, I realised I was voraciously hungry.

"Ooh! Oysters—and grouse!" I exclaimed, taking a plate from Brisbane. I settled myself happily, and it was some minutes before I noticed Brisbane was not eating.

"Aren't you hungry, dearest?"

"I had a late luncheon at the club," he said, but I was not deceived. He plucked a bit of meat from one of the birds and tossed it towards his devoted white lurcher, Rook. For so enormous a dog, he ate daintily, licking every bit of grease from his lips when he was finished with the morsel.

I laid down my fork. "I know you are not angry or you would be shouting still. What troubles you?"

He passed a hand over his eyes, and I felt a flicker of alarm lest one of his terrible migraines be upon him. But when he opened his eyes, they were clear and fathomlessly black and focused intently upon me.

"I simply do not know what to do with you," he said. For an instant, I felt sorry for him.

"Four explosions in a month's time are a bit excessive," I conceded.

"Five," he corrected. "You forgot the house party at Lord Riverton's estate."

"Oh, would you call that an explosion? I should have called it a detonation." I picked up my fork again. If we were going to retread the same ground in this argument, I might as well enjoy my meal. "The oysters are most excellent. Pity about Cook giving notice in order to live in the country. We shall never find another half so skilled with shellfish."

Brisbane was not distracted by my domestic chatter. "Regardless. We must do something about your penchant for blowing things up, my lady."

The fact that Brisbane used my title was an indication of his agitated state of mind. He never used it in conversation, preferring instead to employ little endearments, some of which were calculated to bring a blush to my cheek.

He poured out the wine and took a deep draught of it, then loosened his neckcloth, an act of dinner table impropriety that would have affronted most other wives, but which I strongly encouraged. Brisbane had a very handsome throat.

I applied myself to the grouse again. "It is the same dilemma that always afflicts us," I pointed out. "I want to be involved in your work. You permit it—against your better judgement—and somehow it all becomes vastly more complicated than you expected. Really, I do not know why it should surprise you anymore." After four cases together, including unmasking the murderer of my first husband, it seemed ludicrous that Brisbane could ever think our association would be simple.

He sighed deeply. "The difficulty is that I seem entirely unable to persuade you that dangers exist in the world. You are more careless of your personal safety than any woman I have ever met."

Considering how many times I had directly approached murderers with accusations of their crimes, I could hardly fault Brisbane for thinking me feckless.

I put a hand to his arm. "You understand I do not mean to be difficult, dearest. It is simply a problem of enthusiasm. I find myself caught up in the moment and lose sight of the consequences."

His witch-black eyes narrowed dangerously. "Then we must find you another enthusiasm."

I knew that half-lidded look of old, and I crossed my arms over my chest, determined not to permit myself to be seduced from the discussion at hand. Brisbane was adept at luring me out of difficult moods with a demonstration of his marital affections. Afterward, I seldom remembered what we had been discussing, a neat trick which often provided him a tidy way out of a thorny situation. But not this time, I promised myself.

I tore my glance from the expanse of olive-brown throat and met his gaze with my own unyielding one.

"We cannot spend the whole of our marriage having the same argument, although I realise there are one or two issues which remain to be settled," I conceded.

We had been married some fifteen months, but our honeymoon had been one of long duration. We had returned to London several weeks past. Since then, we had found a house to let and moved many of his possessions from his bachelor rooms in Chapel Street and mine from the tiny country house on my father's estate in Sussex. We had hired staff, ordered wallpaper, purchased furniture and bored ourselves silly in the process. We wanted work, worthwhile occupation, cases to solve, puzzles to unravel. He had retained his flat in Chapel Street as consulting rooms and space for experiments with an eye to keeping our professional endeavours separate from our private lives, but I was growing restless. He had already tidied away three major cases since our return, and I had been given nothing more engaging to solve than the mystery of why the laundress applied sufficient starch to only five of the seven shirts he sent out.

"But you promised to let me take part in your work," I reminded him. "I am doing my best to learn as much as I can to make you a good partner." I hated the pleading note that had crept into my voice. I stifled it with a bit of bread roll as he considered my words.

"I know you have," he said at length. "No one could have worked harder or with greater enthusiasm," he conceded, his lips twitching slightly as he held back a smile.

"And that is why I think it is time you embarked upon your first investigation."

"Brisbane!" I shot to my feet, upsetting the little table, and in an instant I was on his lap, showering him with kisses. Rook took advantage of the situation to browse amongst the litter of china and food. He dragged away a grouse to gnaw upon, but I did not scold him. I was far too happy as I pressed my lips to Brisbane's cheek. "Do you mean it?"

"I do," he said, somewhat hoarsely. "Plum must pursue the Mortlake girl, and I want you to go with him. You are acquainted with the family. It will seem more natural if you are there. And Lord Mortlake suspects the theft of the emeralds to be a feminine crime. You will be invaluable to Plum as a finder-out of ladies' secrets."

I ought to have been thoroughly annoyed with him that he considered me fit only for winkling out backstairs gossip, but I was too happy to care. At last, Brisbane had accepted me as a partner in the fullest sense of the word.

"You will not regret it," I promised him. "I shall recover the emeralds and unmask the villain for Lord Mortlake."

"I shall hold you to that," he murmured, pressing his mouth to the delicate pulse that fluttered at my neck. Dinner was forgot after that, and some time later, as I drifted off to sleep, Brisbane's heavily muscled arm draped over me, I mused on how successfully we were learning to combine marriage with business. It wanted only a little patience and a little understanding, I told myself smugly. I had proven myself to him, and he had full faith in my abilities to assist in an investigation.

I ought to have known better.

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The Dark Enquiry (Lady Julia Grey Series #5) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
LadyHester More than 1 year ago
Julia and Brisbane are a mesmerizing and unusual couple. This series stays fresh and unique with every book.
Patito02 More than 1 year ago
The plot is not as complex as other Lady Julia books and the ending seemed rushed as though the author got to a pre- determined number of words/pages and ended the book. The end of the book came out of left field and made me wonder if I had somehow skipped a chapter or two. However it was a nice summer read and a visit with "old friends" is always pleasant. Hopefully the next book in this series will resume the complex plots and the character development that I have come to appreciate.
curlsz More than 1 year ago
#5 in Raybourn's series did not disappoint! Though in my opinion the mystery itself was a bit less enthralling than some of the other books, that did not take away from my enjoyment one bit. In fact, in this one the personal story of Brisbane is much stronger than some of the others and of course the growth and trials of their relationship are fantastic. And as always the eccentric March family and Julia's pets always add to the fun.
csingh More than 1 year ago
Lady Julia Brisbane and her husband Nicholas Brisbane are at it again! Brisbane is working on a new case and it involves the oldest March sibling, Lord Bellmont. He's gotten himself into some trouble and has come to Brisbane to demand his help. Julia is unaware until she spots them together and Brisbane tries to pack her off to the country. She disguises herself as a man and follows him to the Spiritual Club where she watches the medium at the seance die. Blackmail, more murder, and espionage are added to the mix to make it a very suspenseful and enjoyable read. It's the fifth book in the Lady Julia Grey series and it does not disappoint. You would think that the series would become slightly repetitive and stale, yet Ms. Raybourn has done a great job at keeping it fresh. There are some fantastic twists in this book. You never see them coming! Plus I feel there is more humor in this book. I found myself chuckling out loud at times. And the chemistry between Brisbane and Lady Julia is still quite explosive. Besides laughing, I also found my self getting slightly emotional. Plus by the way the book ended, there is surely a sixth Lady Julia book in the making. I am looking forward to finding out what new adventures and cases the two will face next!
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
A spunky, irrepressible heroine and a Sherlock Holmes-ian hero make this Victorian mystery delightful. Julia Grey Brisbane wants nothing more than to be a full partner in her husband's life and that means full partner in his private enquiry business. To achieve that goal she studies emerging technologies-like flash gun powder and photography-and takes risks that seem very foolish and unnecessary at times. Past experiences have proven that she is not invincible but have not dimmed her enthusiasm. I am uncertain if she doesn't realize the extent of the risks she takes or if she relies too heavily on her luck, position in society, and very talented husband to get her out of the scrapes she gets into. There are moments I wanted to shake some sense into her-a sentiment shared by her husband Nicholas Brisbane. Still, she's quite amusing at times. Brisbane is what Sherlock Holmes might have been if he'd had a few more social skills and time for women. To quote Winston Churchill out of context, Brisband "is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma..." In a word: fascinating. I'd read this story just to find out more about him. I don't blame Julia a bit for falling in love with him or for doing everything in her power to weave herself into the fabric of his life. Even if some of the things she does make both the reader and Brisbane shake their heads. The plot is filled with nice twists and turns, humorous and exciting in turn. Unfortunately, it lags a bit in between plot points. The story could have benefitted from condensing the time frame and eliminating downtime. Still, it was a fun read and the characters are compelling enough that if you haven't read the previous four Julia Grey Novels you'll want to. That said: The Dark Enquiry easily stands alone. I was five pages into it before I realized I'd read Ms. Raybourn's first installment. Now, I'll be getting the rest of them. Who knew reviewing books would be so expensive? Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
harstan More than 1 year ago
After taking the Dark Road to Darjeeling, Nicholas Brisbane and Lady Julia Grey marry in London. Whereas she wants to be his detecting partner, he wants her safe. However, he knows he must walk carefully or his brave wife will hang up a detective shingle of her own. Julia's prim and proper sibling Lord Bellmont hires his new brother-in-law to help him with a mess that he demands a pledge of silence from Nicholas. Julia knows her sibling is in trouble and will not sit on the sidelines. The inquiry leads to Madame Seraphine at the Ghost Club and from there into the newspapers. As the newlyweds argue over Lady Julia's role, the Brisbane pair and their client are in trouble as someone begins to kill to keep a dark secret hidden. The latest Lady Grey now Brisbane late Victorian mystery (see Silent in the Sanctuary, Silent on the Moor) is a fascinating tale that breaks gender lines for that time and place. The story line starts a bit slow as the heroine pontificates, but once her brother seeks assistance, the plot accelerates into a fast-paced action-packed historical thriller as the case turns deadly. Readers will enjoy the merging of detecting properly as the two sleuths in love work on their dysfunctional professional relationship which impacts their personal relationship. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's that good. I will purchase any book she puts out. Please do more Lady Julia after your vacation. Read all of them and they all rate five plus. Thank you for the great reads.
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I love these stories staring Lady Grey. I wish i had read the first story that introduced her first, because i could have seen her evolution. Unfortunately i started inthe middle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The quality of this series has held up so well. I find myself still interested in the heroin as well as her adventures and family. The book is a quick and enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.
VisionaryMaverick More than 1 year ago
I particularly enjoyed the development of Brisbane's character in this book.
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I really enjoy this series with the sense of humor and love between the characters.
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