Monday, 27 June 2011

Review: The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn

Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane’s private enquiry business. 
Among the more unlikely clients: Julia’s very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved—if eccentric—family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation. 
It leads to the exclusive Spirit Club, where the alluring Madame Séraphine holds evening séances...and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall. From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of murder, espionage and blackmail, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust. 
Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont’s sake—and more—they’ll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets: the kind men kill to keep...the kind that can destroy a fledgling marriage. 

Reading a Lady Julia novel feels like coming home; if your home was filled with crazy people, intrigue, murder and the occasional high terror. I adore this series of books and find every opportunity to wax lyrical about them or shove them at unsuspecting friends.

They are all kinds of awesome. The writing is intelligent and beautiful, the characters incredibly drawn and remain three dimensional and multi-faceted no matter how many books are written – in fact I think they become even deeper the further we go. The research is astounding, and it truly feels as though you are a part of Julia’s world from the first page.

And this book was no exception. The cover – oh the cover! The blurb! And from the first page it felt like sinking into a warm bath. Relaxing, welcoming, and as though everything was alright with the world suddenly.

I loved seeing a plethora of old faces – no matter how briefly Daddy March! And was fascinated to see how Portia was taking to motherhood, and Plum to the enquiry business. And Val – I’ve missed him so since the first book, so I was particularly pleased to see him too. And then there were new faces, some I hope to see again, and others I’m fairly sure we won’t, but all of them intriguing.

However, as much as I love the host of characters surrounding them, I was particularly pleased to see Julia and Brisbane again. I loved watching their romance spark in the first three books, and have been fascinated with Raybourn’s skilled portrayal of the couple in their marriage. None of the spark is missing, and it hasn’t diminished the individuals in any way being finally united – in fact it’s raised more questions and issues, and I’ve loved to see how they’ve been tackled and over come. It was so good to finally see Brisbane acknowledging that Julia is just as capable as him of strong emotions and intelligent thought - and whilst he must have realized on some level, to see him truly acknowledge it and bring her further into his work and his life was brilliant after four books of him steadfastly pushing her away.

It was fascinating to see them back in London again – oh London how I’ve missed you too! Whilst I loved the travels and seeing the places the cases took them to, I did love to come back to London, the setting of the first book, and their first meeting. It raised old and new issues and ghosts, and stripped some characters back so that we saw them raw for the first time, and learned a little more about their pasts.

However, they never once lose their individuality, and I love seeing how far Julia has come, how much she has grown as a person, and particularly that she doesn’t lose it all now that she has Brisbane. She continues to grow, to infuriate and intrigue me, and I love watching her journey through each book. She is a fabulous narrator – skilled, witty and intelligent, and it’s a pleasure to be brought back into her life.

They made me laugh with them, and weep when everything seemed at its blackest, and truly lose all composure when all was finally revealed at the end. The book takes you on such a rollercoaster of emotion, and I loved losing myself in it for a few hours.

I cannot really talk further about the book without ruining it – and that would be a cruelty too far. All I can say is that I adore these books. They are my all time favourite series – one I come back to again and again, and this latest instalment is a beautiful continuation of the story – one I hope to continue reading about in Rome…

There are no words, for Deanna Raybourn has used all of them already. All there is left is to say that if you buy one book this month, or even this year, let it be this one – or the first in the series “Silent in the Grave” if you haven’t yet discovered Lady Julia.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely could not agree more with everything said in this review. Those who have not indulged in reading the Lady Julia Grey series should remedy that immediately! Deanna Raybourn's books are true treasures.