Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

England, 1886


Silent in the Grave

by Deanna Raybourn

Upper class Lady Julia Grey, firmly ensconced in her snobbish world, is a frequently used type in the mysteries we’ve covered. What gives the story its pizzazz is her linkup with the enigmatic private inquiry agent, Nicholas Brisbane. Julia’s first encounter with Brisbane is one of the more captivating opening sentences of a book. “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.”

Raybourn’s use of Brisbane to explore the world of the Roma (Gypsies) is well done, as is her use of Julia’s forays into the reasons for Edward’s murder a way to reveal Britain’s deep class divisions. Julia’s eccentric family is interesting too. One member is a sister whose lesbian affair is apparently tolerated; another is a brother whose desire to become a surgeon, an occupation considered beneath his class, is not.

Although the story often strays into the genre of romance literature, Raybourn writes well and with humor. And it is Lady Julia Grey after all whose unsatiable curiosity leads her to track down the culprit.

This is the first of a promised series featuring Lady Grey and Nicholas Brisbane as they form an unlikely crime solving team.



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