Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

Title:  Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia Grey #2)

Publisher:  December 28 2007 by Mira
ISBN: 0778324923 (ISBN13: 9780778324928)
Pages:  552 pages
Source of Book: Amazon kindle ebook
Genre: historical fiction, romance, mystery

Fresh from a six-month sojourn in Italy, Lady Julia returns home to Sussex to find her father's estate crowded with family and friends but dark deeds are afoot at the deconsecrated abbey, and a murderer roams the ancient cloisters.

Much to her surprise, the one man she had hoped to forget--the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane--is among her father's house guests; and he is not alone. Not to be outdone, Julia shows him that two can play at flirtation and promptly introduces him to her devoted, younger, titled Italian count.

But the homecoming celebrations quickly take a ghastly turn when one of the guests is found brutally murdered in the chapel, and a member of Lady Julia's own family confesses to the crime. Certain of her cousin's innocence, Lady Julia resumes her unlikely and deliciously intriguing partnership with Nicholas Brisbane, setting out to unravel a tangle of deceit before the killer can strike again. When a sudden snowstorm blankets the abbey like a shroud, it falls to Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane to answer the shriek of murder most foul.

Our Thoughts:

The second volume in this Victorian mystery series picks up several months after the end of the first. Lady Julia is on vacation in Italy recovering from the traumatic events of her investigation into her husband's death (mystery from the first novel).  At the summons of their father, Julia and her brothers return home to England for Christmas at the very gothic Bellmont Abbey. What follows next is a clever amalgamation of an Agatha Christie ‘whodunit’ with a good game of Cluedo – there’s even a candlestick! The plot twists and suspects keep coming as Julia and Brisbane once more work together on this murder case.

This read was light and fun, a nice break from the more serious reads. The mystery is intriguing and the twists and turns combined with a number of smaller intrigues help to keep the pace moving along nicely. Lady Julia's eccentric family is one of the main features in this book and are a delight to read about. Yet the heart of the book is the relationship between Lady Julia and Brisbane - the chemistry between the two is most engaging. One of Raybourn's major talents is creating characters that are easy to love and fun to spend time with – they make you smile.  Being the second in the series, there's also that feeling of familiarity right from the first few pages as the characters you know and love are back and facing another mystery. Her stories are full of humour – it’s laugh-out-loud stuff:

Morag, my maid, entered the drawing room to announce a visitor.
"The Count of Four-not-cheese".
I gave her an evil look…. "And his name is Fornacci," I hissed at her.

A few hours after a dinner:
"Aquinas, I am afraid the Reverend Mr Snow has died suddenly."
Aquinas was a superior servant; he betrayed little reaction to the news that there was a corpse in the chapel.
He merely blinked once, slowly, and then crossed himself.
"I do hope it was not the duck, my lady."

“I know what that is!” I cried suddenly. “It’s a hookah!”
“And you know this from your many nights spent in opium dens?”he inquired blandly.
“Alice in Wonderland, actually” I admitted. “The caterpillar”.

This was such a fun and entertaining read. We would highly recommend this series to everyone as it appears to be shaping up to be a 'go-to' read when you need to delve into familiar, friendly characters with a touch of the intrigue and romance.

Our Rating:

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