Saturday, November 22, 2008
Silent in the Sanctuary: Review
Book: Silent in the Sanctuary
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: A Lady Julia Grey Mystery, Book 2
Category: Mystery, Historical
After reading and loving Silent in the Grave, I could only hope that Silent in the Sanctuary would live up to the first. I was not disappointed.
A year has passed since Lady Julia Grey, with the assistance of private investigator Nicolas Brisbane, solved the murder of Julia's husband. She has joined her brother's Plum, Lysander and his new bride, Violante in Italy to recover from her ordeal. Though she loves the warm beauty of Italy and is enjoying time spent with her brothers and their handsome friend and guide Alessandro, Julia yearns for something more. The investigation into her late husbands death has left her with a heart for intrigue, and she finds that watching life happen and not taking part in it does not have the same luster it used to. When Julia and her brother's are summoned home by their father, demanding that they return to England immediately for Christmas holidy, she could not imagine just how much action would await her.
A house party hosted in her fathers home is in full swing when Julia and company arrive at Bellmont Abbey. Among the guest list is Nicolas Brisbane and his new fiance, Charlotte King. Julia, who holds an affection for Brisbane after their work together to find her husbands murderer, is shocked at this latest news. She doesn't think that Brisbane's fiance, Charlotte King, is a woman that he would marry, let alone pursue. Julia is suspicious of them right away and decides that she will get to the bottom of this sudden match, but first she has to deal with temperamental family members, a handsome suitor, and tensions within the house. Her plans are further thwarted when a house guest is found dead in the Abbey's sanctuary, bringing the holiday festivities to a halt. On top of the latest tragedy, a snow storm has blown through, trapping everyone inside of the Abbey with a killer on the loose. Julia and Brisbane form a duo and set out to find the killer. What comes next is an intriguing tale of espionage, thievery, attempted murder, family secrets and more.
I really loved this second installment in the series centered around Lady Julia Grey. Julia has come a long way since Silent in the Grave. She has become headstrong, stubborn and smartly independent, while still retaining her endearing wit. Really, she is a great protagonist. The host of characters that play a role in the story are immense, and yet all are masterfully characterised and vividly displayed. The mystery plays out like a game of clue, placing suspicion on each of the characters at some point, leaving the reader guessing as to who is the culprit of any given crime. In the end, all of the threads to the many mysteries surrounding the house party are tied up nicely, with a few shocking revelations that make for a satisfyingly, eye opening ending.
Though Silent in the Sanctuary is not as dark as Silent in the Grave, it is just as strong. I will admit that I wanted the mystery to come in to play sooner, as the first 200 plus pages were devoted to catching up with Julia and meeting new characters. Still, I never found myself bored, just a little impatient for the real fun to begin. And while this is the second book in the series and the events of book one are alluded to here and there, the answer to that mystery is never given away so the books could be easily read out of order. But I think that reading them in order makes Silent in the Sanctuary a more fleshed out read.
As far as follow ups go, Silent in the Sanctuary is a very worthy one. It brings us up to date with Julia and her eccentric family. It shows a little movement between Julia and Brisbane, and reveals more about Brisbane's past. I'm just awed by Ms. Raybourn's knack for characterization and attention to detail with the plot. Even the most minute of details end up playing a large role in the overall mysteries. Well, I guess I've gushed enough about Silent in the Sanctuary. I look forward to reading the the third installment, Silent on the Moor, when it is released in March. Grade A-.
On a vain note, I'm not really liking the new cover art for the series. It lacks the mysterious feel of the other covers.