Monday, February 22, 2010

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Title: Silent in the Grave
Author: Deanna Raybourn
ISBN: 9780778325246, Mira, 2007
Genre: Historical mystery, #1 Lady Julia Grey mystery
Rating: C+

First Line: To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate.

London, 1886. Unbeknownest to his wife, Julia, Sir Edward Grey has received death threats and hired private enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane to protect him. It was action undertaken too late.

Lady Julia believes that her husband's death is due to a longstanding illness, and she's outraged when Brisbane calls with the information that her husband was probably poisoned. However, after reflection, Julia sees the truth behind Brisbane's assertions, and she's determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice.

When Silent in the Grave was first published, I heard raves about it. As usual when a book receives so much praise, I decided to wait a while before reading it. Three years have passed, and I've read it with mixed reactions.

I enjoyed Raybourn's depiction of Victorian England and her characterizations-- particularly of Julia and Brisbane. I enjoyed watching Julia decide to use her widowhood to spread her wings a bit and find out who she really was. I applauded her choice to use her background of belonging to an eccentric family to go against the status quo.

What I didn't enjoy was the plot and the book's length. From certain characters' behavior, it was all too easy to deduce the identity of the killer. I came within an eyelash of skipping to the end to see if I was right, but I didn't. It took over 500 pages to tell this story when no more than 300 would have done a proper job of it.

I would like to see how Julia and Brisbane get along in the other books in the series, but I have to admit that I'm not in any real hurry to do so. I don't care how long a book is if it holds my interest. Julia and Brisbane just weren't enough to make Silent in the Grave a completely satisfying cup of tea.

[Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.]


  1. I think I hated this one even more than you Cathy and am sure I wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't promised to lead a book group discussion about it. As well as the lousy plot and extreme length I found the Nicholas Brisbane character too much of a copy of Sherlock Holmes.

  2. Thanks for the introduction to this author. I like the first line especially.

  3. Cathy - I agree with you and Bernadette about the length of Silent in the Grave. I enjoyed the book more than the two of you did, but yes, the story does go on for too long. Still, I do like Lady Julia's character and the Victorian setting was interesting.

  4. What a disappointment! I hate it when books aren't edited well and it sounds like someone need to take a red pen to that one to make it shorter.

  5. Bernadette-- That's an interesting observation. I didn't get any hints of Holmes as I was reading. Now I feel as though I missed something! (But not enough to go back for a re-read! LOL)

    Wisteria-- Yes, I thought that was a very good first line myself.

    Margot K-- I'm glad you enjoyed it more than Bernadette and I. I never want anyone to have a bad reading experience. :)

    Kathy-- Yes. way too much minutiae!

  6. It wasn't my cup of tea either - much too slow and I was also irritated by the use of normalcy, gotten and snicker which aren't part of (English) English now and I can't imagine a Victorian lady using those terms.

  7. Karen-- For some reason the language didn't pull me out of the story. Probably because I was so cranky over the glacial pace!

  8. This is series on my wish list, but I do hate it when a book overstays its welcome.

  9. Stacy-- In the author's defense, I think she wanted readers to get an excellent idea of the sort of woman Julia was and the time she lived in, but Raybourn just went into too much detail for me.

  10. Thank you, ma'am. Now I don't feel so alone. This was a DNF for me.


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