September 27, 2011

Mini-Review: 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: Julia's very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about 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 Séraphine holds evening séances…and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall. 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, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont's sakeâ € “ and moreâ € “ they'll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets, the kind men kill to keep….

The Dark Enquiry is the fifth book in the Lady Julia Grey series. First of all I’m not sure the title of the fifth book really reflects the content. I would have liked something more impactful. I absolutely LOVED this installment to the series. There is much protectiveness, tenderness and growth between Julia and Brisbane. Their marriage is put front and center, although Brisbane is still hiding many secrets. Julia has taken up a new hobby, or rather Brisbane has channeled Julia's energy into a hobby so he doesn't have to rescue her from getting into trouble all the time.

Even though the antagonist’s and their motivations can be worked out with some thought, there are still quite a few surprises. The part of the story with Julia confronting the antagonist is a bit too coincidental for my liking but this does not detract too much from the story as a whole. There is a particular sentence that struck me deeply, although I’m not going to give any backstory, as it may lean too much toward a spoiler, but I love the way Deanna Raybourn uses metaphors.

"I was wandering through a garden, a beautiful place, with the most exquisite blossoms. And as I put a hand to smell one, it closed, furling its petals tightly against me. I moved to the next flower, and it did the same, and it happened again and again until I reached the garden gate. I passed through and closed the gate, looking back to see the sea of blossoms, nodding sleepily on their stems. I locked the gate firmly behind me and walked on. I did not look back again."

Now you'll just have to read the story to understand what that quote means!
I recommend reading the series in order...The Dark Inquiry is not really a standalone. Raybourn is working on a sixth instalment to the series.

My Rating: 5.0


Related Posts:
Mini-Review: Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

Mini-Review: Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn

The fourth Lady Julia Grey mystery (following Silent on the Moor, 2009) finds Julia happily married to handsome, brooding detective Nicholas Brisbane. Their honeymoon is interrupted by her sister Portia and brother Plum, who want Julia and her new husband to come to India, where Portia’s former lover, Jane Cavendish, is living on the tea plantation her recently deceased husband, Freddie, inherited. Freddie died under mysterious circumstances, and Jane suspects he may have been murdered for his inheritance. Jane is pregnant, and she fears her child will be in danger if it proves to be a boy. Despite her husband’s objections, Julia decides to investigate Freddie’s murder, getting to know the potential suspects, including Freddie’s spinster aunt, his cousin Harry, several neighbors, and a mysterious man known as the White Rajah. As Julia closes in on the killer, she uncovers more than a few family secrets.

In this installment, I don’t feel that Julia or Brisbane advanced much as characters or in their marriage though there is still great chemistry in their exchanges. Many significant events happened with secondary characters, such as Jane, Portia and Plum and many new characters were introduced. There are the usual incidents of Julia’s curiosity getting her into trouble and Brisbane coming to the rescue. The setting of India gives an exotic underpinning and the cultural aspects were interesting. Somehow either because of the setting of India or maybe it was all the new characters, Dark Road to Darjeeling just did not work as well for me as the earlier instalments in the series. Raybourn does excellent character building though...maybe there was just too many extra characters for my personal tastes. The ending is a complete shocker and left me wanting more, so this series is still one of my favourites and I look forward to the next book.

The next instalment in the series, Book 5, is The Dark Enquiry. 

My Rating: 4.0


Related Posts:
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

September 7, 2011

Highlights of London/Scotland/Ireland

We flew to the UK for our summer vacation this year. We were in London for 5 days, then took a train to Edinburgh (2 days), staying in Scotland 9 days in total, then we flew over to Dublin (2 days) and toured Ireland and Northern Ireland for 9 days. An amazing trip with too many experiences to mention but here are the highlights.

London is a great city but busy, busy, busy. We will visit again sometime. The shopping districts have the same stores repeat every other block and sometimes across from each other!

Oxford/Regent Street Shopping

 Tower of London/Westminister. City Sightseeing Tours Best way to see London.

The British Museum. Marble Bust of Alexander the Great.

Taking the Train South to Sunny Coastal Worthing

We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre

Edinburgh was by far our favourite city and the West Highlands of Scotland were magical and awe-inspiring. We would go back here again in a heartbeat.

Edinburgh & Edinburgh Castle

Scotch Whiskey Taste Experience. Largest collection of scotch whiskey in the world.

Glamis Castle

Isle of Skye and hiking ALL the way up to Old Man's Storr 

Midlands and West Highlands, specifically the Nairn and Glencoe areas. Spectacular!

Urqhart Castle at Loch Ness

Glasgow Shopping

Restored Great Hall at Stirling Castle

Rosslyn Chapel. A beautiful structure marred by scaffolding.

Ireland/Northern Ireland
The Trinity College Old Library/Book of Kells was ok but I would recommend Dublin's Chester Beatty Library instead.

Dublin. The Spire.

Guinness Storehouse

Powerscourt Estate Gardens

Miven Head

View from Road to Miven Head

Killarney National Park

Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet

Cliffs of Moher

Giant's Causeway

Trim Castle


Did you know that an automatic car rental will cost you three times more than a manual rental in the UK? We had a friend give us lessons in driving standard/manual in order to save costs. So, not only did we have to drive on the wrong side of the road, we wrangled with changing gears with the gear shift on the opposite side we learnt on. Our trip was awesome when we weren't driving but those roundabouts drove us nuts!!! We navigated around using our iPad and Google Maps/Offmaps and drove 1350 km in Scotland and 1685 km in Ireland. Its not something I would suggest doing for the faint of heart. Our summer vacation was very memorable but I think I'm done with 3 week vacations where you are sleeping somewhere different almost every night.