Thursday, February 19, 2009

Silent in the Sanctuary

Title: Silent in the Sanctuary
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Mystery
Published: 2008
Series: Lady Julia Grey Mysteries (Book 2)
Next in Series: Silent on the Moor (forthcoming, March 1, 2009)

Julia has recovered from her shocking investigation of her husband’s murder and is now relaxing in Italy with two of her many brothers. But when Lysander gets married to an Italian lady without his father’s permission they are all summoned home to England for Christmas. Upon arrival at their ancestral home of Bellmont Abbey they realize that Earl March has planned a large house party to celebrate the season.

Among the guests are Nicolas Brisbane and (most surprisingly) his fiancée. But it isn’t long before odd things start happening. There are many reports of a ghostly apparition floating around the old Abbey. Ancient relatives disappear in the middle of snowstorms. An expensive set of pearls vanish. And worst of all, one of the houseguests ends up dead during a game of Sardines!

A fun dash back in time to hobnob with the Victorians, the historical details of this book are very well done. The tension between Julia and Brisbane is palpable and helps keep the story moving the few times it might have stalled out. But as a mystery, it takes forever to get there. The murder doesn’t happen until halfway through the book, although many other odd things take place.

While it does take forever to get to the murder, there are plenty of other things to distract and fascinate the reader. First there’s Brisbane’s odd fiancée; the widowed Mrs. King. I sincerely disliked Mrs. King’s story line, but what she detracted from the book was more than made up for by Julia’s cousins Lucy and Emma and their Aunt Dorcas. They are the most fascinating new characters to the series. I hope we see more of them later, although I rather doubt that we will.

Lady Julia Grey Mysteries are told in first person from Lady Julia’s perspective in past tense.

My Thoughts:
While I didn’t like this installment quite a much as the first, it was a delightful read that had me glued to the page. On my first read through I didn’t even notice how long it took to get to the actual murder. Also, I love Ms. Raybourn’s attention to historical detail. As a historian, it just makes the book that much more enjoyable.

Again, don't let the new covers throw you off. This is a mystery novel, not a sordid romance.

Favorite Scene:
Julia’s confrontation of Brisbane at the riverside is all malice, hurt and jealousy. Quite a fun read!

Who this book is best for:
An adult mystery dealing with some adult topics, I’d keep these for either very advanced High Schoolers or those who have reached their Majority.

Violence: 3 of 5 for murder and a gristly review of the corpse.

Stars: 3.5 of 5

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