My reading of Deanna Raybourn’s new series led me to the Lady Julia Grey series, her previous historical mysteries featuring an intrepid heroine. This book begins with death – Julia’s husband Edward suddenly keels over at the start of a dinner party, a seemingly natural tragedy. Edward had a history of a weak heart, so it was assumed that was the cause of his death. As it turns out, things are not as they seem and as Julia reaches the end of her year long mourning period she begins to believe he was murdered. She reaches out to Nicholas Brisbane, someone who had been present at the dinner party, and who had suggested at the time it may not have been a natural death. He is an inquiry agent Edward had hired to trace who had been sending anonymous threats in the form of psalms, the last one being: “LET THE WICKED BE ASHAMED, AND LET THEM BE SILENT IN THE GRAVE.”
Julia and Nicholas join forces, albeit reluctantly, to try and find the truth. While Julia has observed the mourning period as expected, she does feel rather liberated now. Their marriage had not been what she expected – they had been childhood friends, but once married their life wasn’t idyllic. They hadn’t been intimate for quite some time before his death, and they had no children. She is part of a large family of rather eccentric personalities, and we meet several of these along with way as the story unfolds. It seems to start off rather slowly in parts, but I was intrigued enough to keep reading and I’m glad I did.
In some ways, Julia comes across as rather spoiled, but she is a product of the times and her upbringing. Working with Nicholas opens her eyes to many things she just hadn’t thought about previously, and she does grow as she learns the truth about Edward. His life and what happened to him are nothing like what she expected. She is also attracted to Nicholas, though the romance really isn’t prominent in the book. Nicholas, on the other hand, is quite the perfect hero – almost too perfect. He’s intelligent, handsome, quick-witted, plays the violin, and is part Romany as well as the grandson of a duke. His only failing is that he succumbs to migraines, and his drug of choice to deal with them makes him unstable.
Overall, it was enjoyable, even though Julia’s family is almost too open-minded for the Victoria era setting; I suppose though that under the repressed façade of the time many things were going on we might be surprised at! I’m interested in what happens next at any rate.