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 long-standing 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.
©2007 Deanna Raybourn; (P)2007 Audible, Inc.
All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A. All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
"Fans of British historical thrillers will welcome Raybourn's perfectly executed debut." (Publishers Weekly)
In the 12 years I have been an Audible member I have only purchased two or three romance novels. I can't recall what prompted me to use a credit for SILENT IN THE GRAVE, but I am glad I did. The great period detail shows Raybourne did her research. Be sure to listen closely because the author sprinkles quite a few clues throught this clever story. The narration by Ellen Archer is spot on, not sure why some reviewers disliked her.
If you want to listen to a riveting mystery laced with humor, romance and cleverness then SILENT IN THE GRAVE is a great choice.
If you buy this book looking for a romance you will be disappointed, as the *intimation* of a romance is there, but in the end, the actual romance is holding out for the sequel. (So don't be mislead of the Harlequin title -- this isn't sugary-sweet over-the-top romance book, which in my case was a concern, although ever since Poison Study, I stopped judging a Harlequin book by its publisher :-)
The mystery/plot is fine, although there is a little too much deus ex machina towards the end, but not enough to ruin the book for me. The characters don't always play to societal norms, but it isn't as if this book is trying to pass as accurate historical fiction, so it is forgivable. There are a number of interesting side characters, including pets. Overall fairly well-written gothic/Victorian mystery mix -- good, but not perfect.
As for the narrator, I don't think she is British. It wasn't that the accents were off completely, just occasionally, which to my ear was slightly grating, and at times the "class" of the accent didn't match the "class" of the character. I expect most North American listeners won't be bothered, but British listeners might cringe at times.
From me, the romance gets a 2/5 (although the potential for a really steamy 5/5 exists for the next book). The narrator ranges from 2.5/5 to 5/5. The story gets a 3.5/5.
Deanna Raybourn has created memorable characters here in Lady Julia Grey, and Nicholas Brisbane. The former is an aristocratic lady with a charmingly eccentric family, and the latter is handsome, dark, exotic -- but Raybourn avoids the traps that could turn him into a Sherlock Holmes clone. Grand fun.
I gave only 4 stars because the reader is only moderately adequate to the task. At times she sounds a bit strangled, which I put down to RP being not her native English accent; and many of the characters sound rather alike, the men particularly. This definitely reduces the listening pleasure, but not so badly that I don't recommend the book.
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
I bought this book as a mystery, not as a romance, so I was happy to have the story pretty light on the romance side -- more a tantalizingly slow build up of romantic tension. The period detail was good, and the plot was interesting, although the author did sometimes telegraph what was going to happen next. I liked the characters, minor ones as well as major. I had a little trouble getting into it at the beginning, but I think that was because it started out sounding a lot like many a Victorian or Regency romance. Thank god it never developed into the bodice-ripper I was dreading. All in all, it turned out to be a satisfying story with an interesting ending.
My problem with this book was the narrator. At first, the voice itself bothered me because of a rather saccharine tone, but I got used to that and it fitted the story fairly well. This narrator did a fairly good job with different voices, but different accents did not come out well. One of the servants was supposed to be Scottish, but the accent used sounded so artificial, with words really stretched out of shape, that it was hard to listen to. Another character, said to be Italian, sounded more like a Scotsman. Also, in the course of delivering lines of dialogue being spoken by the upperclass British characters, every once in a while something slipped and a word or two came out not in the right accent because the pronunciation of the vowels had shifted.
But finally, the part of the performance that drove me wild and greatly detracted from my enjoyment of the story was the mispronunciations. It seems obvious to me that when a reader prepares to record an audio book, one of the obligations on that reader is to make sure that he or she knows how to pronounce every word in the text. This reader does not seem to have done that at all. I will grant you that I am not British, but I have listened to and watched a large number of performances of British books, movies and plays, and I believe that I have an ear for the pronunciation of most words, even when spoken by the English. For instance, I know that they do not pronounce "Viscount" as "Viss-count". And I suspect they do not pronounce "bibelot" as "bible-ott." There were many other similar examples in the recording of this book. The fact that the reader did not know how to pronounce the words was her failing. And the fact that the editor, assuming there was one, did not catch the mispronunciations was the failing of the company producing the book.
I would listen to another Lady Julia book, but not if it is read by the same narrator.
I almost gave up a few times during the course of listening to this book. Although the plot moves along nicely and the charater development is good, Ellen Archer's narration is weird and irritating. She inserts pauses between words for no apparent reason, giving the story...an...odd...halting...quality. I will read the second in the series myself rather than listen to her again.
I'm not a big romance reader, but I love a good mystery. I like historical fiction well enough, too. This was a good combination of mystery, historical fiction and chick lit. It was not full of ooshy-gooshy romance (a relief), nor was it full of bodice ripping passion. It was, however, a pretty good mystery and the author did her research for the historical component. The narrator does some pretty terrible accents, though. Everyone who isn't English sounds like an English person doing a caricature. Also, she makes some pretty glaring mispronunciations.
I had this book on audio, and enjoyed listening to it every time I got into my car. But there was an element missing that kind of confounds me, actually. I didn't sense any suspense, and I was never sure if there was a developing romance or not between the two "main" characters. Although it was somewhat satisfying in that there was a real ending to the story, I didn't find it a rich story that I could get lost in. Nevertheless, it was worth staying with to the end.
This book was excellent. I have ecclectic taste in romance novels and this fit right in with my taste. I like romance novels from Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick, Elizabeth Peters, J.D. Robb, and Lisa Kleypas; very different writing and genre styles. This book was a cross between Elizabeth Peters (historical, suspense) and Amanda Quick (Historical Romance). The romance is just starting in this book though and I cannot wait until her next book to see what happens...
I nearly didn't listen to this book when I realized it was published by Harlequin (Mira line). My experience with Poison Study and Magic Story was not good. However, I was pleased to find that this was a fun historical mystery and that the romantic aspects did not overwhelm the mystery.
While I thought I knew who the villian was early on it wasn't confirmed until very close to the end. I enjoyed that the heroine while espousing current thinking on a number of issues did not go a great distance over the line of opinions held by the most forward thinking Victorians. One of the things that did not feel quite right was the fact that her family was so highly situated. Her father was not only an Earl, but also an intimate of Queen Victoria's. She did not seem to fit into that type of a milieu.
Anyway, if you want something a little lighter and fluffier than Anne Perry then you should sit down with this one (or travel or do your housework while listening to it.)
I just recently re-read it as a matter of fact. And not for the first time. I thought everything about it was pretty close to perfection. The author did a wonderful job of creating fully formed and fascinating characters. Julia, the main character was almost the least developed, but that fit well with the plot of this first book in the series and her character was the perfect foil to the eccentric family she tolerates to varying degrees, her dysfunctional long term relationship with her husband and his family and most importantly, to the brilliance of Brisbane. He quickly became one of my very favorite "heroes", using that word quite loosely, of all time. I love every quirk, tic and unlikeable aspect of his character. And Julia slowly emerges as the book progresses and in the other books that follow in the series.
This is one of the best parings of narrator to book. Everything about the crisp, clear, reserved and concise voice of the narrator worked. The way she pronounced "Brisbane" perfectly defined Julia's personality.
The quality of this book alone made me rethink some long held prejudices about its publisher.
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