Raybourn, Deanna - 'Silent in the Grave'
The book opens in Victorian England in the year 1886. Lady Julia is married to a wealthy, but secretive husband, Sir Edward Grey. Suddenly, he very mysteriously collapses and goes into convulsions, during a dinner party that he and Lady Julia were holding at their London home. One of the guests is Nicholas Brisbane, who with a manservant, helps Lady Julia to transport her husband to a bedroom where Sir Edward sadly later dies.
Lady Julia's family, including her father, Lord March and her brother, Lord Belmont and a posse of aunts start to help her organise the funeral arrangements once the family doctor has completed his diagnosis. The funeral planning introduces the "The Ghoul" into the proceedings, this is a relative of Lady Julia's who attends all the funerals she can and never seems to leave. Lady Julia's various aunts, sister, cousins and father are advising her about what shades of black she should wear whilst in mourning and that she should continue avoiding any social events for a minimum of a year and a day.
After the funeral has occurred, the reading of the will, and the period of mourning officially starts, Lady Julia is bored by the her obligations in Victorian society to have to keep up the mourning ritual, when she feels no real sorrow for a husband who was cold and distant with her. Lady Julia starts to worry that her husband could have been murdered and to help her investigate this, she re-contacts Nicholas Brisbane as he had raised the possibility of foul play, immediately after her husband's death.
Nicholas Brisbane and Lady Julia have a number of fascinating adventures together, before ultimately, they discover the murderer of Sir Edward. What an enchanting, well plotted but witty story this is, authentic in it's colourful Victorian period detail and yet, written by an American author. A number of Americans have tried in the past to write mysteries with a genuinely English atmosphere but few have succeeded. This book is the first in a series of books with the characters of Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane and I look forward to reading them all.
Terry Halligan, England