Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I’ve noticed that I’ve posted at least one Retro Friday review per month this year but I still don’t have one for December. I don’t want to break the streak so here I am, squeezing one last review before the year is out. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn, the first book in the Lady Julia series, seems like the perfect choice for this. I used to read mysteries back in high school because I just borrowed anything that I could from friends. I think I was never really into it because I thought some of the aspects of mystery novels, such as murder, are creepy and I’m a scaredy-cat. I was looking for a cozy read this December and I’ve heard such good things about the Lady Julia Grey series that I decided to pick it up. Also, the second book in the series is set during Christmastime so it’s the perfect read for this time of the year.

Here’s the summary from Deanna Raybourn’s website:

“Let the wicked be ashamed. Let them be silent in the grave.”

These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward’s death was due to a longstanding physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring her husband’s murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward’s demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

This book has a winner of a start. Here are the first few lines:

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 on the floor.

Those lines immediately make you curious as a reader and you can’t help but be drawn into the story. I was determined to find out who this Nicholas Brisbane was and why Lady Julia’s husband was twitching on the floor. December is such a busy time of the year so I read this book in bits and pieces. I remember there was one time when I read this in a coffee shop while waiting and some of the scenes had me smiling (another moment of crazy person smiling to herself while reading on her Kindle). I was frustrated that I didn’t have enough time to read the past few weeks because I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know both Julia and Nicholas Brisbane in this first novel. Smart and sassy Julia, who slowly starts to come out of her shell after her husband passes away. And the enigmatic Nicholas Brisbane – tall, dark, brooding and with an unusual past. These two are forced to work together to solve the mystery surrounding the death of Julia’s husband.

There are so many delightful aspects of this novel that just worked for me: the wild and unconventional March family, the banter and hint of romance between Julia and Brisbane, the plot that unexpectedly twists and turns. This is a novel (or series) that makes you invest in the characters. I loved Julia’s relationship with her father and I also loved that the Earl is such a liberal and open-minded person for someone living in the Victorian era. I also liked seeing how Julia relates to her sister Portia and her youngest brother Valerius. I have a feeling each book in the series will feature a different March sibling because Julia HAS nine siblings and I’m looking forward to that. I did guess who the murderer was but was completely blindsided by the reasons behind it. I gobbled this up as soon as I had free time on my hands and it made me happy that I finished it and started the second book just in time for Christmas. Silent in the Grave is a good start to a promising series. I’m glad that Deanna Raybourn has a backlist that I can look forward to. Yes to more Julia and Brisbane being partners in solving crime.

So that’s my last Retro Friday post for the year, which was mostly inspired by Angie’s lovely review of Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier (one of my favorite novels). I told her that I should up my game next year and should aim for at least two Retro Friday books per month. Old titles are awesome, you know? And I’m always interested in recommending under-the-radar books. Anyway, hope the rest of you are enjoying the year-end festivities! πŸ™‚

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Janicu’s Book Blog
Good Books and Good Wine
Tempting Persephone

10 thoughts on “Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

  1. YAY! I love Silent In The Grave SO MUCH and am glad you loved it too! And okay, Brisbane, YES PLEASE. The first line is absolutely killer and Raybourn really keeps up her momentum throughout the book.

    And I’m not too huge on murder books, but I do enjoy cozy mysteries but never seem to make time to read them.

    And yay for Retro Friday! I think I’m going to try to participate in it more next year as well.

    • Deanna Raybourn has convinced me that I need to read more cozy mysteries. They really aren’t scary so I have nothing to worry about. I just started on Silent on the Moor and I’m looking forward to more Julia and Brisbane. πŸ™‚

      I’m amazed at how often you do Retro Friday posts! I will try my best to post as often as I can this year. I do have a lot of old titles in my TBR pile.

  2. Has it been that long since this book came out? Anyway, such a good series. Adore Julia and Brisbane’s magnetic and contentious relationship. And the opening lines of SILENT IN THE GRAVE have to be one of the best opening lines ever. I also like the cover you posted. Wish the publisher had kept that look and kept the books in MMPB size instead of making them all TPB. Sigh.

    • It came out in 2007? I just thought it would make would be perfect for Retro Friday since Angie recommended it. Love that it takes a couple of books for Julia and Brisbane to work on their relationship – makes it a lot easier to read the books because you’re eager to find out more. I’m reading the Kindle version (bundle of 3 books) but I really like the covers for the series. You’re not a fan of trade paperback? It would be nice if they were mass market because that’s more affordable.

      • Oh 2007. I think I read it in 2009 or something, this is why. OMG, I ADORE the first 3 books! Not to say after that things were bad (they weren’t), but the first 3 books really has the best slow build. You’re in for a treat. I’m actually feeling excited about what you’re reaction is going to be because I think you’ll be into it.

      • I just started on the third book and was planning to finish it before Holly and I start our readalong for Nine Coaches Waiting but looks like I won’t be able to do that. Will definitely finish it within January though. Really looking forward to seeing why Brisbane is acting all mysterious.

  3. I love this cover too but have liked some of the more conservative TPB covers. Crazy person?! – I have one of those too. Lol *love*

    So happy you fell for Julia, Brisbane and the entire March family! I look forward to all your reviews of this series.

    • LOL just because I was all by myself and I was smiling. But that’s a lot better than being by myself and crying over a book. πŸ˜›

      I love the whole March family! They’re wild and crazy and I’m looking forward to getting to know more about them. I forgot to mention Aquinas and Morag in my review – they’re interesting characters as well.

  4. I’m so tickled you chose this one for your last RF post of the year. And even more glad you’re enjoying the series. I was in agony waiting for MOOR to come out. It really does come through in every way that matters. πŸ™‚

    • It was the perfect choice for my last Retro Friday review! I really am enjoying the series so thanks for pushing me to read it. πŸ˜› You convinced me when you mentioned that Silent in the Sanctuary is set during Christmastime.

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