My fourth book for the RIP Challenge, because apparently I just cannot get it together to read The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher right now. Silent in the Grave is the first of (so far) three mysteries with Lady Julia Grey, whose husband passes away at the start of this book. After his death, private investigator Nicholas Brisbane tells her that he believes her husband was murdered. She rejects this possibility out of hand; but a year later, after her mourning time is over, she finds clues in her house that make her wonder – was he murdered? And if so, how and by whom?
I enjoyed this book a lot. Obviously I am in the mood for slightly frothy set-in-England historicalish mysteries! Silent in the Grave is – er, derivative seems harsh, but let’s just say you can see its literary antecedents. Julia Grey owes a fair bit to Amelia Peabody (okay, yeah, have to read those again soon), and Brisbane is squarely in the tradition of dark tortured heroes. Which is why I won’t necessarily need to own this book or the ones that follow, but I would like to get them out of the library. Because, you know. They’re fun.
On the other hand, I am not completely satisfied with this book’s treatment of gender issues. Lady Julia is constantly doing silly things that cause trouble, without thinking about them, and Brisbane is all YOU ARE VERY STUPID. Sometimes she does clever things, and this is noted, but there did seem to be a surfeit of silliness on her part, with lots of good sense and deductive skills on the side of Brisbane. I do not like this. I shall read Elizabeth Peters as an antidote. And then I was not in love with the way male homosexuality was managed in the book. I can’t put my finger on what bugged me about it, but I just didn’t care for it. Queer Victorian history is rich and fascinating, and it seemed like Deanna Raybourn just didn’t want to be bothered with it, and made all her gay characters sort of two-dimensional.
This has not been a very positive review of a book that gave me a lot of pleasure – I just don’t want to give it a glowing review and then everyone have high expectations and then be like, Hm, this book isn’t all that great. Because it isn’t all that great, unless you are in total guilty pleasure mode, and I am. No judgment please. 😛
Other reviews: Bride of the Book God, A Garden Carried in the Pocket, At Home with Books, bookshelves of doom, S. Krishna’s Books, Medieval Bookworm, Reading Matters, ReadingAdventures, What Kate’s Reading, Framed and Booked, Mysteries in Paradise, Lesa’s Book Critiques, Angieville, Wendi’s Book Corner, My Random Acts of Reading, Miss Picky’s Column, The Thrillionth Page, Sadie-Jean’s Book Blog, & tell me if I missed yours so I can add a link!