Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey Series #1)

Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey Series #1)

by Deanna Raybourn

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Overview

"Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave."

These ominous words are the last threat that 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, he collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that her husband was murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers damning evidence for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring the murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778328179
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 12/29/2009
Series: Lady Julia Grey Series , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a double major in English and history and an emphasis on Shakespearean studies. She taught high school English for three years in San Antonio before leaving education to pursue a career as a novelist. Deanna makes her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and daughter and is hard at work on her next novel.

Hometown:

Williamsburg, Virginia

Date of Birth:

June 17, 1968

Place of Birth:

Ft. Worth, Texas

Education:

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

Read an Excerpt

I'd 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.

I stared at him, not quite taking in the fact that he had just collapsed at my feet. He lay, curled like a question mark, his evening suit ink-black against the white marble of the floor. He was writhing, his fingers knotted.

I leaned as close to him as my corset would permit.

"Edward, we have guests. Do get up. If this is some sort of silly prank—"

"He is not jesting, my lady. He is convulsing."

An impatient figure in black pushed past me to kneel at Edward's side. He busied himself for a few brisk moments, palpating and pulse-taking, while I bobbed a bit, trying to see over his shoulder. Behind me the guests were murmuring, buzzing, pushing closer to get a look of their own. There was a little thrill of excitement in the air. After all, it was not every evening that a baronet collapsed senseless in his own music room. And Edward was proving rather better entertainment than the soprano we had engaged.

Through the press, Aquinas, our butler, managed to squeeze in next to my elbow.

"My lady?"

I looked at him, grateful to have an excuse to turn away from the spectacle on the floor.

"Aquinas, Sir Edward has had an attack."

"And would be better served in his own bed," said the gentleman from the floor. He rose, lifting Edward into his arms with a good deal of care and very little effort, it seemed. But Edward had grown thin in the past months. I doubted he weighed much more than I.

"Follow me," I instructed, although Aquinas actually led the way out of the music room. People moved slowly out of our path, as though they regretted the little drama ending so quickly. There were some polite murmurs, some mournful clucking. I heard snatches as I passed through them.

"The curse of the Greys, it is—"

"So young. But of course his father never saw thirty-five."

"Never make old bones—"

"Feeble heart. Pity, he was always such a pleasant fellow."

I moved faster, staring straight ahead so that I did not have to meet their eyes. I kept my gaze fixed on Aquinas' broad, black-wool back, but all the time I was conscious of those voices and the sound of footsteps behind me, the footsteps of the gentleman who was carrying my husband. Edward groaned softly as we reached the stairs and I turned. The gentleman's face was grim.

"Aquinas, help the gentleman—"

"I have him," he interrupted, brushing past me. Aquinas obediently led him to Edward's bedchamber. Together they settled Edward onto the bed, and the gentleman began to loosen his clothes. He flicked a glance toward Aquinas.

"Has he a doctor?"

"Yes, sir. Doctor Griggs, Golden Square."

"Send for him. Although I dare say it will be too late."

Aquinas turned to me where I stood, hovering on the threshold. I never went into Edward's room. I did not like to do so now. It felt like an intrusion, a trespass on his privacy.

"Shall I send for Lord March as well, my lady?"

I blinked at Aquinas. "Why should Father come? He is no doctor."

But Aquinas was quicker than I. I had thought the gentleman meant that Edward would have recovered from his attack by the time Doctor Griggs arrived. Aquinas, who had seen more of the world than I, knew better.

He looked at me, his eyes carefully correct, and then I understood why he wanted to send for Father. As head of the family he would have certain responsibilities.

I nodded slowly. "Yes, send for him." I moved into the room on reluctant legs. I knew I should be there, doing whatever little bit that I could for Edward. But I stopped at the side of the bed. I did not touch him.

"And Lord Bellmont?" Aquinas queried.

I thought for a moment. "No, it is Friday. Parliament is sitting late."

That much was a mercy. Father I could cope with. But not my eldest brother as well. "And I suppose you ought to call for the carriages. Send everyone home. Make my apologies."

He left us alone then, the stranger and I. We stood on opposite sides of the bed, Edward convulsing between us. He stopped after a moment and the gentleman placed a finger at his throat.

"His pulse is very weak," he said finally. "You should prepare yourself."

I did not look at him. I kept my eyes fixed on Edward's pale face. It shone with sweat, its surface etched with lines of pain. This was not how I wanted to remember him.

"I have known him for more than twenty years," I said finally, my voice tight and strange. "We were children together. We used to play pirates and knights of the Round Table. Even then, I knew his heart was not sound. He used to go quite blue sometimes when he was overtired. This is not unexpected."

I looked up then to find the stranger's eyes on me. They were the darkest eyes I had ever seen, witch-black and watchful. His gaze was not friendly. He was regarding me coldly, as a merchant will appraise a piece of goods to determine its worth. I dropped my eyes at once.

"Thank you for your concern for my husband's health, sir. You have been most helpful. Are you a friend of Edward's?"

He did not reply at once. Edward made a noise in the back of his throat and the stranger moved swiftly, rolling him onto his side and thrusting a basin beneath his mouth. Edward retched, horribly, groaning. When he finished, the gentleman put the basin to the side and wiped his mouth with his handkerchief. Edward gave a little whimper and began to shiver. The gentleman watched him closely.

"Not a friend, no. A business associate," he said finally. "My name is Nicholas Brisbane."

"I am—"

"I know who you are, my lady."

Startled at his rudeness, I looked up, only to find those eyes again, fixed on me with naked hostility. I opened my mouth to reproach him, but Aquinas appeared then. I turned to him, relieved.

"Aquinas?"

"The carriages are being brought round now, my lady. I have sent Henry for Doctor Griggs and Desmond for his lordship. Lady Otterbourne and Mr. Phillips both asked me to convey their concern and their willingness to help should you have need of them."

"Lady Otterbourne is a meddlesome old gossip and Mr. Phillips would be no use whatsoever. Send them home."

I was conscious of Mr. Brisbane behind me, listening to every word. I did not care. For some unaccountable reason, the man thought ill of me already. I did not mind if he thought worse.

Aquinas left again, but I did not resume my post by the bed. I took a chair next to the door and remained there, saying nothing and wondering what was going to happen to all of the food. We had ordered far too much in any event. Edward never liked to run short. I could always tell Cook to serve it in the servants' hall, but after a few days even the staff would tire of it. Before I could decide what to do with the lobster patties and salad molds, Aquinas entered again, leading Doctor Griggs. The elderly man was perspiring freely, patting his ruddy face with a handkerchief and gasping. He had taken the stairs too quickly. I rose and he took my hand.

"I was afraid of this," he murmured. "The curse of the Greys, it is. All snatched before their time. My poor girl." I smiled feebly at him. Doctor Griggs had attended my mother at my birth, as well as her nine other confinements. We had known each other too long to stand on ceremony. He patted my hand and moved to the bed. He felt for Edward's pulse, shaking his head as he did so. Edward vomited again, and Doctor Griggs watched him carefully, examining the contents of the basin. I turned away.

I tried not to hear the sounds coming from the bed, the groans and the rattling breaths. I would have stopped my ears with my hands, but I knew it would look childish and cowardly. Griggs continued his examination, but before he finished Aquinas stepped into the room.

"Lord March, my lady." He moved aside and Father entered.

"Julia," he said, opening his arms. I went into them, burying my face against his waistcoat. He smelled of tobacco and book leather. He kept one arm tucked firmly around me as he looked over my head.

"Griggs, you damned fool. Julia should have been sent away."

The doctor made some reply, but I did not hear it. My father was pushing me gently out the door. I tried to look past him, to see what they were doing to Edward, but Father moved his body and prevented me. He gave me a sad, gentle smile. Anyone else might have mistaken that smile, but I did not. I knew he expected obedience. I nodded.

"I shall wait in my room."

"That would be best. I will come when there is something to tell."

My maid, Morag, was waiting for me. She helped me out of my silk gown and into something more suitable. She offered me warm milk or brandy, but I knew I would never be able to hold anything down. I only wanted to sit, watching the clock on the mantel as it ticked away the minutes left.

Morag continued to fuss, poking at the fire and muttering complaints about the work to come. She was right about that. There would be much work for her when I put on widow's weeds. It was unlucky to keep crepe in the house, I reminded myself. It would have to be sent for after Edward passed. I thought about such things—crepe for the mirrors, black plumes for the horses—because then I did not have to think about what was happening in Edward's room. It was rather like waiting for a birth, these long, tense minutes of sitting, straining one's ears on tiptoe for the slightest sound. I expected to hear something, but the walls were thick and I heard nothing. Even when the clock struck midnight, the little voice on my mantel chiming twelve times, I could not hear the tall case clock in the hall. I started to mention the peculiarity of it to Morag, because one could always hear the case clock from any room in the house, when I realized what it meant.

"Morag, the clocks have stopped."

She looked at me, her lips parted to speak, but she said nothing. Instead she bowed her head and began to pray. A moment later, the door opened. It was Father. He said nothing. I went to him and his hand cradled my head like a benediction. He held me for a very long time, as he had not done since I was a child.

"It is all right, my dear," he said finally, sounding older and more tired than I had ever heard him. "It is over."

But of course, he was entirely wrong. It was only the beginning.

I he days leading up to the funeral were dire, as such days almost always are. Too many people, saying too many pointless things—the same pointless things that everyone always says. Such a tragedy, so unexpected, so very, very dreadful. And no matter how much you would like to scream at them to go away and leave you alone, you cannot, even if they are your family.

Especially if they are your family. In the week following Edward's death, I was inundated with March relations. They flocked from the four corners of the kingdom, as mindful of the pleasures of London as their family duty. As etiquette did not permit me to be seen in public, they came to me at Grey House. The men—uncles, brothers, cousins—briefly paid their respects to Edward, laid out with awful irony in the music room, then spent the rest of their time arguing politics and arranging for amusements that would get them out of the house. My only consolation was the fact that, like locusts, they managed to finish off all of the leftover food from the night Edward died.

The women were little better. Under Aunt Hermia's direction, the funeral was planned, the burial arranged, and my household turned entirely on its head. She carried around with her a notebook filled with endless lists that she was forever consulting with a frown or ticking off with a satisfied smile. There was the crepe to be ordered, mourning wreaths, funeral cards, black-bordered writing paper to be purchased, the announcement for the Times, and of course my wardrobe.

"Unrelieved black," she informed me, her brow furrowed as she struggled to make out her own handwriting. "There must be no sheen to the fabric and no white or grey," she reminded me.

"I know." I tried not to think of the new gowns, delivered only the day before Edward's death. They were pale, soft colours, the shades of new flowers in spring. I should have to give them to Morag to sell at the secondhand stalls now. They would never dye dark enough to pass for mourning.

"No jewels, except hair jewelry," Aunt Hermia was saying. I repressed a shudder. I had never warmed to the notion of wearing a dead person's hair braided around my wrist or knotted at my ears. "After a year and a day, you will be permitted black fabric with a sheen, and deep purple or grey with a black stripe. If you choose to wear black after that time, you may relieve it with touches of white. Although," she added with a conspiratorial look, "I think a year is quite enough, and you must do what you like after that."

I glanced at my sister Portia, who was busy feeding her ancient pug some rather costly crab fritters laced with caviar. She looked up and wrinkled her nose at me over Puggy's head.

"Don't fret, dearest. You have always looked striking in black."

I grimaced at her and turned back to Aunt Hermia, who was deliberately ignoring Portia's flippancy. As children, we had been quite certain that Aunt Hermia was partially deaf. It was only much later when we realized that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her hearing. The trick of hearing only what she wanted had enabled her to raise her widowed brother's ten children with some measure of sanity.

"Black stockings of course," she was saying, "and we shall have to order some new handkerchiefs edged in black."

"I am working on them now," said my sister Bee from the corner. Industrious as her namesake, she kept her head bowed over her work, her needle whipping through the fine lawn with its load of thin black silk.

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Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 171 reviews.
Debbie-J-1970 More than 1 year ago
I am an avid fan of historical mysteries. I just loved this one. Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey is a character that reminded me of Dianne Day's Fremont Jones. She became a real person to me as the pages flew by. I frquently found myself smiling at the turn of events Lady Grey encounters. I was hooked from the first paragraph. Ms. Raybourn has a wonderful tongue-in-cheek style that kept me interested over 511 pages. That is saying a lot as I frequently find many books today entirely too long. I look forward to many pleasurable hours reading the rest of the series. If you like historical mysteries, give this one a try. I really think you will be delighted.
SHARON39 More than 1 year ago
I second all the 5 star reviews!! I enjoyed every scrumptious word! I bought her next two books and can't wait to get started!!! She is one of my new favorite authors!! Another favorite I've recently become attached to is LINDA MASEMORE PIRRUNG, EXPLOSION IN PARIS...I can't tell you what this book did for me and continues to do for me!!! It's a contemporary romantic suspense but has wonderful, inspiring messages throughout the "sit on the edge of your seat" storyline and leaves you wanting more, more, more when you close that last BEAUTIFUL PAGE!! I am so hooked!!
ChadAaronSayban More than 1 year ago
It's really hard to not get hooked by a novel that begins with these two sentences: "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." Wow! A really strong way to begin a story. Fortunately, the rest of the story remains just as strong. Silent in the Grave is the debut novel of Deanna Raybourn. Set in late 19th century London, it is also the first of a series that now numbers three centering on Lady Julia Grey, a lady of high status in Victorian England. Lady Julie's life changes when her husband dies, leaving here a young widow. But when someone brings to light the possibility that his death was, in fact, a murder, her life suddenly veers into the unknown. Julia must weigh her desire to simply move on with her feeling of duty to her late husband to solve the crime. While the murder mystery makes for an enjoyable story, what really takes this novel to the next level is the writing of Deanna Raybourn. Her style paints the period beautifully, but she refrains from making the scenery the focus of the story. Instead, it provides the perfect backdrop - bringing the reader into the London that existed more than a century ago. However, Raybourn never loses sight of the plot being the driver of the story - a problem that many authors who write period pieces often get sucked into. (You can check out my review of The Historian for an example of a period story gone wrong). The mark of a great period story is that by the end of the book, your focus should be on the story and the atmosphere should be but a comfortable shawl that the story is wrapped in. Raybourn succeeds at this. Whether you like reading about the Victorian-era, enjoy a good mystery, or a simply looking for a well written novel to read, I think you will be very satisfied with this book. I, for one, am already looking forward to reading the sequel. 4.0 stars: Great book, you should not be disappointed Oh, one final comment. The cover artwork of the hardcover version is one of the finest I've seen in a very long time. It captures the essence of the book and looks wonderful on the shelf.
JerseyAngel More than 1 year ago
The is a beautifully written book. I love historical novels. This one is no exception, you get lost in the location & time, the language & characters. The mystery of the death of Lady Julia Grey's husband keeps you on your toes through the entire story & leads to a suprising ending. The relationship between Julia & Nicholas one is definately an interesting one & the author does a good job of not serving it up on a silver platter. Julia is a wonderful character as well, stronger then most women of her time & willing to take chances & stand up for what she believes in. I look forward to reading the 2nd in the series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Deanna Raybourne's SILENT IN THE GRAVE, is a hard to put down Victorian mystery, both suspenseful and humorous in its details, that unmasks the consequences of that society's moral, gender and class codes upon individuals within society. As the narrator records the twisting hunt for clues to the identity of the killer, she also discovers her own identity. Julia Grey's husband Sir Edward collapses, dying in front of her and a house full of guests. Victorian mourning customs come into play as new black clothing must be ordered along with black bordered stationery. The Ghoul, Aunt Hermia, comes to visit and partake in the latest society mourning rituals. When Nicholas Brisbane tells Julia of tales of threatening notes to her late husband and his fear of being murdered, Julia discounts his tale at first. When she finds a vicious threatening note herself while sorting through out her husband's things, Julia rethinks her position Now, Julia joins Nicholas in an investigation and search for clues to unmask the details behind her husband's death. Julia's search for justice brings her head to head against some of the unspoken rules of morality and a woman's place in Victorian society. As she follows the path of clues, Julia steps out of her familiar world, exploring gypsy customs, brothels and even looks into the practices of medicine in her day. The dark enigmatic Nicolas encourages and challenges Julia, becoming an inspiration and even catalyst for her to confront her own ideas and move beyond herself. As Julia uncovers more and more layers of the thickening mystery, she also lays bare some foundations of Victorian society and morality. Before she can unmask the killer, Julia must put aside those notions of what is proper for a woman in her position and look into and unmask the unspoken the class divisions, the repressed sexuality, and a women's role in society. Deanna Raybourne locates the home as the structural and emotional as the center of this historical mystery as indeed it was in Victorian society. As Julia steps across some some of the boundaries prescribed to her as a woman of a certain class and away from the home, her character evolves and becomes more herself through an inner journey that follows her hunt for clues. At the end of this exquisite mystery, the reader cries and laughs and hopes alongside Julia. SILENT IN THE GRAVE is a mystery rich in well-researched historical details but also a fast-paced read as each clue unmasks another mysterious layer. Infused with sadness, SILENT IN THE GRAVE provides humorous relief as the clues lead the reader into an ever increasing dark reality hidden by the masks of Victorian society. The unmasking of the villain leads to ever increasing shocking details. Murder will out, not only the deed but all the dark truths behind the deed. An exceptional emotional and riveting read!
YaYaof2 More than 1 year ago
I meet Mrs. Raybourn at a local book signing event. I must say I am thoroughly pleased to have made her acquaintance and been given the opportunity to find out about her books. From the 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." To the last line of the book you are whisked away to another time and place. Raybourn's ability to capture the essence of Lady Julia Grey in the wonderful Victorian age is mind boggling. Her attention to details is what brings this wonderfully suspenseful story to life. Raybourn writes in such a way that you can visually see every detail of the story. The characters, homes, rooms, clothes, and even the food, this book was written to be on the silver screen. Silent in the Grave is the first of Raybourn's books and the introduction to the timid yet destined to be impetuous, Lady Julia Grey. We find ourselves joining Lady Grey just as her husband is collapsing. As he lies on the floor convulsing, the debonair and mysterious, Nicholas Brisbane, a stranger to Julia rushes to Edwards's side. After Edwards's death Lady Grey begins her first year of mourning as propriety requires. Just as she is making plans to move on Mr. Brisbane pays her a visit to let her know he believes her husband was murdered. This visit from Mr. Brisbane begins a tale so intriguing you cannot quit reading. Is Mr. Brisbane correct? Is Lady Grey in danger? Why is Mr. Brisbane so mysterious? Can Lady Grey move on from her husband's death without finding out the answers to these questions? NO! Follow Lady Grey as she discovers not only things about her husband and the hand at which he died. But she discovers who she is and the things that shape her into the best female character in a book for quite some time.
MariaIK More than 1 year ago
I usually prefer to familiarize myself with new authors the old-fashioned way, I have heard so much about Deanna Raybourn's "Silent" series I simply couldn't wait. Even having heard (an thoroughly enjoyed) the first book in the series Silent in the Grave, I will definitely get a hard copy and read it again. As I told Deanna in an e-mail, her writing makes it worth being a well-read, well-educated reader. Clever, witty and full of references to and influences by other works of literature, it acquires a new dimension in the hands of someone, who can actually recognize and appreciate those literary connections. The author is definitely one of the (unfortunately) small army of writers, who refuse to use one- and two-syllable words and no-more-than five-word sentences, just to dumb the writing down to accommodate a wider audience. Call me a snob, but I follow the same principles in my writing as well, hoping that those who truly wish to read clever books will take time to educate themselves and figure out what the words mean. And those who don't wish so? Well, why should I worry about them? Back to Silent in the Grave, all of the perks described above come with a thrilling story, delightfully told. One advantage of the audio version of the book is that you get to hear it narrated by the amazing Ellen Archer, who is definitely the only Lady Julia Gray for me going forward.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deanna Raybourn's wonderful historical romance not only introduced us to a delightful cast of intriguing characters, but her suspenseful story line kept the pages turning until the wee hours of the night. The romantic tension that develops between the willfully headstrong Lady Julia and and the intoxicatingly handsome and resolute Bisbane is one for the big screen. As soon as I finished the book I immediately sought out the next two volumes and can not wait until the fourth book is in print! My friends and family are now enjoying the series too and find ourselves debating over who should be cast in the various lead characters. Bravo Ms. Raybourn!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This may be Raybourn's first novel but you would probably not guess it upon reading her book. From the opening pages, in which Lady Julia's husband dies, to the last plot twist, you'll experience an expertly crafted mystery filled with details and historical facts designed to make you feel like part of the action. This opening to what I can only hope will be a long series of Lady Julia novels will give you all the information you need to enjoy the story but still leave you wanting to know more about these interesting characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In order for me to read books that take place a long time ago, the book has to be extremely good- this was one of them! Had me from page one and I couldn't wait to see the mystery solved. Enjoyed the characters and there was humor sprinkled throughout. Highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a semi-single mother of 3, I really don't have the time to sit down and read a complicated book, but I like something that can 'take me away' for a while. I really enjoyed this book. I could read it in the couple minute spurts I had during naps or after the kids went to bed and not have to re-read parts to make sure I picked up all the details like most mystery novels. I'm a Romance junky and this was just up my alley. Also wasn't obvious about the solution, which was nice. Hate when I've figured out the book by chapter 3.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This genre is completely new to me, I'm a sci-fi freak, mostly. But this book just grabbed me with both hands & never let go until the last page. Her descriptions are crisp, her dialogue sounds true to the ear, and the tiny details she includes make it all very real. Her characters are wonderfully done, and the story has enough twists & turns & surprises to keep you on the edge of your seat. I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves excellent writing, no matter what sort of books one normally reads.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The gypsies, the rustle of bombazine and taffeta, the coal dust hanging in the London air, dark nights, private lives opened like a tin of caviar and the upstairs/ downstairs of it all....I couldn't put it down!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1886 London, Lord Edward Grey dies suddenly while hosting a party at his home from the chronic heart disease that has killed several members of his family. He leaves behind a grieving but wealthy widow Julia. --- While she still mourns her loss, private inquiry Nicholas Brisbane insists that Edward hired him to investigate who was sending him threatening letters. He further insists he believes her late spouse was murdered though the killing was disguised to look like his heart gave out. When he proves his theory, Julia reluctantly asks him to continue his inquiries, but to his dissatisfaction with her help. As they dig into Edward¿s last days, they uncover a secret sexual life her deceased husband led as a killer calmly waits for Julia to figure out the truth, --- This terrific Victorian whodunit starts off displaying the polite manners of the Ton during a period of mourning, but quickly turns into an exciting historical mystery once Nicholas proves to Lady Julia that her late husband was murdered by a clever diabolical adversary. Stunned and needing justice and revenge, the intrepid Lady Julia teams up with the inquiry agent by making inquiries among the servants uncovering along side of Nicholas the fact that her spouse had some secret sexual appetites. Though the era serves as the base for many mystery tales, Deanna Raybourn provides one of the deeper because fans will believe they are accompanying the amateur and professional sleuths around late nineteenth century London. --- Harriet Klausner
les121 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I reached the last word of this story, I immediately wanted to turn back to the first page and read it all over again. Silent in the Grave is perfectly executed in every way. The mystery is complex and unpredictable with exciting, sometimes chilling twists and subtle clues sprinkled throughout. Moreover, the characters are engaging and nuanced - no one is what they seem - and Lady Julia is a dynamic, likable heroine whose narration brings suspense, humor, and emotion to the story. Overall, an outstanding debut.
Stewartry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting. I originally gave this four stars, but rolled it back to three stars on thinking about it a little more. I think I was generous because I did enjoy the writing and some elements of the story, but after some consideration I shall state (if that put Oliver! in your head, I apologize, but it¿s in mine now too) that Silent in the Grave falls short in more areas than it succeeds in.Looking back at it, what first comes to mind is the clothing. The book is filled with details of mourning, and all the lovely new dresses that had to be put aside ¿ new dresses which will now go to servants or a second-hand shop somewhere, because once mourning is over of course they¿ll be out of style. (In truth, the dresses were given up with, it seemed, more regret than the deceased husband.) Colors and hems and buttons and patterns ¿ they overwhelm other aspects of the book in my memory.Silent in the Grave is set in 1886-7 London, largely, it seems, to take advantage of the fashions, and to allow the author to put her characters in broughams and hansoms and such. The characters feel far more modern. This is attributed to the fact that Our Heroine Lady Julia Grey is part of a family which prides itself on its oddness and insistence on keeping their distance from the ordinary. Her sister, for example, is in a committed relationship with another woman ¿ all the family know, and they¿re cool with it, as each and every family member is all but required to do or be something outrageous. Julia has shirked the duty ¿ until now.But it comes off not as avant-garde edginess, but nonsense. When all¿s said and done it is Victorian London. There were discussions in the course of the story between Julia and assorted men of her relation and acquaintance, which were so unlikely as to be almost laughable. And while there certainly were lesbian couples ¿ and gay couples, and molly-houses, and all the rest ¿ I think it¿s safe to say none of it was so open as it is in this book. Homosexuality was, at bottom, in many of its aspects illegal, and by the vast and righteous Victorian throng considered the depths of immorality. A ¿proper¿ Victorian lady wouldn¿t even know such things existed in the world, much less her own family. It¿s a lovely idea that a 19th century woman¿s family is completely accepting of her lesbian relationship ¿ but it¿s beyond implausible. Knowledge of it would never remain within the family, for one thing (even if it was pas devant les domestiques), and once it leaked into society at large the entire family would, without question, be shunned. The same holds true for quite a few of the examples of outrageousness the family cultivates: it¿s all very well for them, a family might have behaved so, but they would have been driven from the ton.I like the idea of the murder being thought natural death for a long time. I only wish the reasons for that had not included an incompetent and misogynistic doctor. If the mores and outlook of the 21st century were going to be transplanted into so many 19th century characters, it might have been refreshing to see a doctor who knew what he was doing and wasn¿t a burk about it.I liked that Nicholas Brisbane was on the scene, and that he glared at Lady Julia and suspected her for some time; it would have been more interesting if she had been a stronger contender for the role of first murderer. I liked Brisbane ¿ to a degree. Unfortunately, he bears a strong resemblance to others of his breed: the superlative detective with secrets. He¿s so very good at so many things, and so obviously destined to be Lady Julia¿s love interest from that first glaring moment. The most original things about him were his secrets, one of which I¿ll touch on in a minute; the other was not perhaps so shocking as it was intended to be, and was almost as improbable as so much else.Lady Julia, even when she was not obsessing about clothes, was less amiable. Another too-modern element to her and the story was her constant and open og
annekiwi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Deanna Raybourn is an LT author and over in the 75-er's there is the "Take It or Leave It" Challenge. This month's challenge was to read a book by an LT author. And I am so grateful for that. I loved this book. How can you not like a book starts something like "To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not accurate. Edward was still twitching." Lady Julia Grey's husband "drops dead" at her feet and she meets the man her husband hired to investigate what he thought were threats made against his life. I enjoyed the mystery, although the character development was more what drew me in. Lady Julia has always been conventional in a family of eccentrics. Upon the death of her husband, she starts to explore who she could possibly become when she no longer has anyone to answer to. It's more than a 'coming of age story' or what to do when you spouse dies ... it was very well written. Very gripping. I can't wait to read the sequels. My only criticism was the use of a paranormal ability by one of the main characters. I felt it detracted from both the plot and the character development. I understand that it was used to explain many things, but I felt it was contrived and those things that were explained by it could have been explained other ways. I can't really say anymore without giving away the plot.
wagner.sarah35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lady Julia makes for an excellent narrator and brings to life this Victorian murder mystery. While the mystery itself may be a bit predictable, the exploits of Julia and her investigator Nicholas Brisbane make for fun reading and the secrets of English high society spice up the plot.
lindawwilson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Doesn't ring true for a historical novel. Stereotypical characters. Mystery portion is pretty good, a little sordid, though. Her reactions and those of her family are unrealistic for the times.
aseaver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fabulous book of the "mystery" variety. Strong descriptions of Victorian London that brought you right into the story. Well developed secondary characters, like the March family relatives and the household staff, make for an engaging, sometimes humourous read between the "meat" of the murder investigation, however it was the mystery of Mr. Brisbane, and the attraction between him and Lady Julia Grey that also provided a rich plot point beside the truly surprising mystery. Cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel!
dknippling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book really pushed my reader buttons, so I'm not likely to be objective.The heroine is realistically amateur at detection. The hero is unpliable. The mysteries are entertwined and nastier than expected. The characters take the setting for granted but the author doesn't. The family is odd. Edged out by the Lord Peter books...but I'll definitely reread these, too.
plunkinberry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this story and the characters. This was a new twist that I'm glad I tried. The twists and turns of this story made it quite exciting and unexpected.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As historical mysteries go, I believe that Silent in the Grave would be better classed as a historical romance. I found the mystery quite uninspiring and it felt as though it was there simply to give the two main characters an excuse to meet and spend time together. I did enjoy the Victorian time period, and the fashions, food and day-to-day activities all appear authentic and well researched. The main character, Lady Julia Grey, was likeable enough, although a tad too modern in her outlook. I was less enthralled by the love interest, Nicholas Brisbane, who seemed to be a combination of a swarthy bully boy and a pale imitation of Sherlock Holmes.When Lady Julia Grey¿s sickly husband dies, she is confronted by Nicholas Brisbane who declares that her husband had hired him to investigate as to who was sending him threatening notes. He felt that her husband had most likely been murdered. At first she is totally astounded and does not believe this, but almost a year after his death, she finds evidence that induces her to get in touch with Brisbane and reopen the investigation.A rather long and drawn-out tale firmly entrenched in Victorian morality. There was a lot going on in this book, red herrings abounded, which instead of making things more interesting, just appeared to drag out an already long story. To make things worse, I didn¿t really ever feel any real chemistry between Lady Julia and Nicholas I rather doubt that I will be following up on this series.
majkia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bit romancy for me, and a bit obvious with regard to a few parts, but a pleasant read nonetheless. Interesting characters well drawn.
wildflowersoul on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very few books get so good that I need to read "just a little bit more" on my lunch break. This book won a spot on that short list today, as my commute to work this morning left me hanging at a particularly compelling point in the story. Now I can't wait to get back on the train to read more this evening!Nothing fancy, it's a pretty typical historical fiction novel. Feisty strong-willed English lady runs around trying to solve a mystery with a handsome mysterious stranger who is, of course, a helping of Heathcliff and a big whopping pile of Rhett Butler. It's probably fairly predictable, but hey, I could never solve a Nancy Drew mystery before the Teen Detective, so I'm pretty good at staying in the moment in a book so long as the writing is good enough to allow me full immersion (and it is!).