Book: Silent in the Grave

Title: Silent in the Grave
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Mystery
Length: 509 pgs

Summary: Always weak, Sir Edward falls to the floor while he and his wife, Lady Julia, entertain some friends. Julia is sent from the room by her father, but not before a mysterious and dark man, Nicholas Brisbane, warns her that this was very likely murder. Certain Brisbane is mad, Julia disregards his warning until a year later, when she throws off her full-mourning and starts to pack away Edward’s things…only to find a death threat shoved in his desk.

pg 1 – To say 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.

Why should you read this book?
For you historical fiction writers looking for a first-person narrative, this book is a great example from which to learn. Julia is impetuous, frank, and conflicted, all great character traits for a narrator. For those of you writing in the High Victorian era (i.e. late Victorian era, from 1870’s-on), read this book to learn how to drop details about society, class restraints, and aristocratic assumptions without taking away from the story.

Unfortunately for me, I read too much, so many stories start to seem similar and I guess things before I should, like who the killer might be. I did not, however, guess the motive at all and I give Raybourn props for that. An entertaining read, similar in theme to Tasha Alexander’s A Poisoned Season, I’m wondering whether I shouldn’t switch my own 1880’s novel to a first-person narrative in which a young woman loses her husband before she really knew him, thus freeing her to walk about Society the way an umarried woman cannot, and solve mysteries in a Nancy Drew sort of way.

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