January 11, 2009

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

It is Victorian England and we meet Lady Julia Grey as her ailing husband Edward is writhing in throes of agony upon their music room floor, guests to their gathering looking on. Of course he soon dies and inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane requests an audience with Julia to tell her that her husband may not have died of his illness but may have been murdered…as he had been hired by Edward to look into threats against his life…but with no proof Julia sends him away. Now a year later, Julia finds a threatening note hidden at the very back of Edward’s desk drawer. Of course, she can’t let her husband’s murder lie at rest, so she seeks out Brisbane and hires him to again hunt out the perpetrator.
I thought Silent in the Grave a very well crafted, well paced story. I would describe it as snapshots of plot accompanied by descriptive labels (meaning each chapter’s matching quote by bard), rather than a running stream, teasing you a little bit here, a little there, before twisting again. The writing is very detailed and at times blunt, drawing you in, never letting you leave. The setting, Grey House, was intriguingly atmospheric…Edward preferring a much different style than Julia’s own muddled, quirky study…multiple varying occupants each with a secret.
I appreciated that Raybourn rounded out the setting and the characters, especially the March family. This is the first book in a series after all and I thought it important that Raybourn took the time to fully develop each character you are introduced to, making you feel intimately invested of the course each took in the plot. Lady Julia’s character being sparkling and adventuresome but both innocent and blind. Brisbane being hardened, secretive and complex. The banter between Lady Julia and Brisbane was often intense and at times witty or biting, making for an exciting story. I look forward to meeting them all again in Silent in the Sanctuary, the second in the series and Silent on the Moor, the third book in the series (to be released in trade format March 1).
Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave is an amazing debut novel, filled with puzzles, seething emotions and gothic romantic overtones. It has been one of my favourite reads in months and I put it equally on par with Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily Ashton series, And Only to Deceive and A Poisoned Season (and A Fatal Waltz which I have not yet read), and Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale.
My Rating: 4.5



  1. Hey, great review! :-D I've been reading so many great comments about this series ... must check this book out!!! I have The Thirteenth Tale in the TBR for so many months now - I buy books so much faster than I can read them ... the TBR is becoming overwhelming already!

  2. I've seen a bunch of good reviews of the later ones in this series, but I hadn't seen anything about this first one. I'm really tempted to pick them up now!

  3. I LOVED this book! Glad to see you enjoyed it, too.

  4. I loved this whole series of books! I'm very happy that you like them too. :D

  5. Megan, its one of my favorite series for sure! I also love the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters.