Author: Deanna Raybourn
Copyright Year: 2007
Review By: Katrina Beard
” To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor”. Lady Julia Grey is reluctant to believe that her husband’s death was murder, but faced with some unpleasant truths, and the enigmatic Nicholas Brisbane, she initiates an investigation. The truth about Edward’s death reveals some truths about her own life, but Julia has both the courage and the conviction to follow a dangerous trail to its end.
This is book one in the Lady Julia Grey series of Victorian mysteries, set in London and featuring Julia Grey and her mentor Nicholas Brisbane. Julia Grey is an engaging character, intelligent, stubborn and impulsive, but also steadfast and courageous. The murder of her husband creates a rift in Julia’s life where she is suddenly free to grasp the opportunity to use her talents and abilities. Her conventional and socially sanctioned marriage was built on poisonous lies – her much more unconventional contact with Nicholas Brisbane forces her to confront some hard truths. Raybourn provides a strong cast of engaging characters, including Julia’s extensive and eccentric family. If you enjoyed the Mitfords you might find echoes of them here, and all the more fun because of it. Brooding Nicholas Brisbane is an enigmatic foil for Julia’s more excitable nature and their growing relationship in both life and investigation makes the book sparkle. As Julia investigates Edward’s murder, she learns a great deal about the society she lives in, the nature of investigation and her own heart. If you’re a fan of historical mysteries, this is a strong start to an excellent series. The writing is literate and witty and the characters engagingly human. There are currently five books in this very strong series.