Silent In The Sanctuary Paperback – Dec 19 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Fans and new readers alike will welcome this sparkling sequel to Raybourn's debut Victorian mystery, Silent in the Grave (2007). Left homeless by fire, wealthy widow Lady Julia Grey has been recuperating in Italy. With Christmas approaching, Julia returns to England, where she joins her large and eccentric family at their equally large and eccentric ancestral estate, a former monastery that retains some monkish ghosts. Nicholas Brisbane, a private enquiry agent with whom Julia has shared both a heated embrace and a stint at detection, is among the holiday houseguests, and to Julia's astonishment Brisbane is in line for a title and engaged. Then a local curate is murdered in the former church sanctuary, and a set of priceless pearls goes missing. Headstrong and clever Julia joins Brisbane in investigating the crimes, deciphering his personal situation in the process. Readers may wish for a bit more romantic development, but the complex mystery, a delightfully odd collection of characters and deft period details produce a rich and funny read. (Jan.)
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"Mesmerizing and atmospheric, Silent in the Sanctuary is a beautifully written period piece mystery." - www.mysterybooks.com "A delightfully odd collection of characters and deft period details produce a rich and funny read." - Publisher's Weekly --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Returning home after a 6 months stay in Italy with her brothers Plum and Lysander, Lady Julia Grey gets a chance once again for excitement at Bellmont Abbey. The previous year, she had developed a taste for intrigue and danger after helping Nicholas Brisbane in the hunt for her husband's killer.
Once home in England, they find the Family Estate crowded with family and friends invited for Christmas; the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane is amongst them. The festivities are soon chattered when one of the guests is found dead and murder is suspected. When a cousin steps forward and asks for sanctuary, Julia has doubts and once again finds herself working with Brisbane following ghosts and tangled leads to sort through clues in order to solve the murder.
This novel is a blend between romance and mystery driven and populated with richly drawn characters and settings. The premise of the story is interesting enough but I found the introduction dragged before action kicked in, I became impatient for something to happen. The plot finally picked up during the second half and gave us entertaining twists that led to an enjoyable ending.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Although Julia is happy to be at home with her family, she dreads seeing Brisbane again. She cannot forget the moment when "we had both of us reached beyond ourselves" and kissed passionately. Unhappily, their relationship never progressed beyond that one feverish encounter, and she has not heard a word from him in five months. However, Julia still cherishes the pendant that he gave her bearing the lovely inscription, "For where thou art, there is the world itself."
Julia and her brothers arrive four weeks before Christmas to find a large group of guests in residence at March House: their saucy and sarcastic sister, Portia; the vicar and his new curate, Lucian Snow; their poor orphaned cousins, Emma and Lucy Phipps; Dorcas, a portly and cranky old aunt; Lucy's much older fiancé, the overbearing Sir Cedric Eastley; Henry Ludlow, Cedric's cousin and secretary,; Hortense, the Earl's lady friend and a former courtesan; and most shocking of all, Nicholas Brisbane and his future wife, the lovely widow, Charlotte King. It takes all of Julia's considerable pride, breeding, and restraint to keep from showing her true feelings towards Brisbane's intended: "She was a Fragonard milkmaid, a Botticelli nymph. I hated her instantly."
When one of the Earl's guests is murdered, Julia and Nicholas join forces to find and apprehend the perpetrator. In the course of the novel, people are robbed, bludgeoned and poisoned. The deliciously intricate plot features phantoms, gypsies, and jewel thieves as well as deception, secrets, shocks, and betrayals. Raybourn has come up with the perfect recipe for a Victorian murder mystery: Take one spunky and meddlesome heroine. Add a dark and handsome gentleman with a shadowy past and a tortured soul. Mix in family scandals and a dollop of murder. Sprinkle with a generous portion of witty and acerbic dialogue, and top it all off with an imaginative and unexpected conclusion. "Silent in the Sanctuary" is a marvel that will have Raybourn's mesmerized readers turning pages well into the night. Miss it at your peril.
I first came upon Ms. Raybourn's work in an unusual way. Having just finished The Thirteenth Tale, back in late 2006, I was browsing the bookstore looking for a book that might be similar, and written by a contemporary author. I didn't think I would find anything, but I was game, and up for the challenge. I came across Silent in the Grave on a display, and it caught my eye because the cover was red, and it vaguely, subconsciously reminded me of the cover of The Thirteenth Tale - although the only similarity is that red appears on both covers. A quick glance at the book description told me that I hadn't found what I was looking for, but I decided to read the first page anyway.
And I'm glad I did. I was immediately hooked, and instead of waiting to get a better price on Amazon, which I guiltily admit I usually do, bought the book at the store, and devoured it. Ms. Raybourn kept me just as entertained throughout the rest of the book as her opening paragraph had promised, and I greatly looked forward to the next installment in the series.
Now how odd is it, that when looking for something vaguely Victorian that spoke of ghosts and family secrets and tragedies, that I found Silent in the Grave? Because while that wasn't what I was looking for at the time, Silent in the Sanctuary absolutely was. It evoked memories of the Bronte sisters and Henry James, and was more what I was looking for two years ago. That's what this book is...a throwback to a different era. The hook isn't in the first sentence, but rather in the entire book. Ms. Raybourn gave herself quite a task, and she succeeded admirably. She brought together a large, diverse group of people, outfit them with unique yet sensible and believable personalities, and then told us a story that takes place in a cold, dank abbey that is quite possibly haunted.
Not a huge fan of romance, I found myself much entertained by the back and forth between Brisbane and Grey in the first book of this series, and it continues here, with a marvelous twist. In fact, there are so many twists in this book that it's nearly impossible to guess at where the story is headed.
In addition to Brisbane and Grey, there is a marvelous cast of supporting characters, all of whom are exceedingly well drawn. I kept waiting to encounter a character that stepped out of character, so to speak, because with the tangled web Ms. Raybourn was weaving, it seemed that something, somewhere, was bound to fall apart.
It didn't. Ms. Raybourn entertained me again, and masterfully managed all of the delicate, intricate threads of her story. I'm delighted that she didn't try to copy what made the first book such a success, that she listened to the story, and told it as it needed to be told.
Let's just say having read that I now believe this other person to be quite wrong, or the author has improved. Both probably. While it is true the crime that makes "Silent in the Sanctuary" a murder mystery does place roughly half way through the book it is because this is a mystery of the Agatha Christie school, unlike it's predecessor. In "Grave" Lady Julia barely knew her husband and so everyone was a suspect for his murder and an old fashioned investigation had to be taken to find the culprit.
But "Sanctuary" has a murder taking place in an isolated country mansion (an abbey before Henry VIII's reforms) during a snowstorm that insures the murderer is one of the guests invited for the March Christmas party. As more crimes come to light, people and jewels go missing and hidden tempers, perhaps murderous, are revealed, it is clear that something must be dine before all the guests can depart-the killer and theif among them. Can Lady Julia (freshly returned from her recovery vacation on the continent with a young, handsome Italian Count in tow) and Nicholas Brisbane her partner in discovering her husbands murdered just months before (who happens to be newly engaged and in line for a title) find the culprit before more lives are taken? Or before their snowy isolation melts away and the fiend gets away for good...
I didn't find this to be boring at all, unlike my friend. Yes, a lot happens before the murder and it is mostly chit-chat, getting to know the cast of characters. But this is a deeply personal crime and knowing the characters is essential. Besides Lady Julia's narration is so charming (and at times laugh out loud funny) that everyday talk is still a pleasure to read. And I do believe with this novel Deanna Raybourn has firmly proved she is no copier of Tasha Alexandra's Lady Emily series. They are similar, it's true (widowed female detective gets into the business discovering husband's murder and somehow gets involved with a man that has something to do with investigations) but they are different in many ways. And both are so well written that it would be a crime not to enjoy both series.
Four stars and I do look forward to the next novel in the series immensely.
In this novel we are reunited with our heroine Lady Julia Grey as she sets out to return to her father's home in England with her two brothers after they have sojourned in Italy. She has been in Italy recovering from the loss of her husband and her home. Now their father has demanded that they all return home for Christmas.
Their father's home in England is in Belmont Abbey which has been the home of the Marches for generations, back to the time of dissolution of the Catholic church under Henry VIII. Julia returns to find many houseguests visiting when she arrives, including Nicholas Brisbane who is not alone.
When one of the houseguests is murdered Julia's cousin confesses to the crime. Julia is certain of her cousin's innocence and at her father's request she and Brisbane set out to discover who the real murderer is as they have done before.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it was effortless to read. I enjoyed the various threads of mystery and the history of the English Abbey. I loved the characters of Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane as I did in the first novel. The tension propelled the story and kept me reading and wondering while I wasn't reading. I was satisfied by the conclusion of this story and yet there was plenty left unfinished and unexplained. I can not wait to read the next installment in this series.
I would highly recommend reading Silent in the Grave first, it will make this story a richer and more satisfying read.
My only disappointment was how quickly I finished reading this book...another 550 pages would have made me happy!
Critiquing Brisbane's intended, Julia finds the woman lacking. Pretty enough, to be sure, but not of the intellectual caliber one would expect from Brisbane. Her suspicions piqued, Julia believes something is amiss and vows to keep her eye on the couple, at the same time attending to her temperamental new sister-in-law, as well as a visiting clergyman, and two poor-relation cousins, one of whom has brought her wealthy, elderly fiancé with plans to be married in the Abbey chapel that weekend. Beginning their usual fractious repartee, Julia and Brisbane have once more begun to circle one another when a scream rings out; a man is found dead in the chapel, the about-to-be-wed cousin standing near the lifeless body clutching the blood-stained murder weapon. With everything in chaos, the cousin claims the right of sanctuary, unwilling or unable to answer further questions. Later that night, when she and her devoted sister suffer the consequences of someone's ill-intent, it is clear that this family holiday is not going as planned.
With the aura of a baroque late 19th century drawing room melodrama, the setting is gothic and mysterious, four centuries of ghosts in good company with a killer who mixes among the other guests. Terrified that the culprit might be one of her kin, Julia must consider every possibility, no matter how distasteful, following Brisbane's lead, but forging a singular path as her own stubborn nature prevails. Accidentally thwarting Brisbane's investigation, Julia is adequately remorseful, but as is her wont, her mistakes come at Brisbane's personal cost, all because she refuses to be dominated by another man since widowhood, independence part of this protagonist's charm. Stories within stories, wheels within wheels, nothing is predictable in this novel, not the murderer, nor the eclectic assortment of guests, including a jewel thief and a deeply bitter man who craves society's approbation, nor the two combatants, Julia and Brisbane, who fuel yet another romp through the dark halls of murder and a relationship yet to be acknowledged. A charming, irresistible novel. Luan Gaines/ 2008.