Silent in the Sanctuary
Silent in the Sanctuary reacquaints the readers of Silent in the Grave with widowed Lady Julia Grey and the inscrutable Nicholas Brisbane. Summoned back to Sussex for Christmas following a six-month stay in Italy with two of her brothers, Lady Julia finds herself in the midst of what could only be termed as the house party from hell. Brisbane, who aided Lady Julia in finding her husband’s murderer in the first book, is in attendance, inexplicably engaged to a vapid, simpering woman (meaning not Lady Julia). Also present are two poor relations, a light-fingered, less-than-pious curate, and other assorted family members. When one of the poor relations is found clutching a bloodied candelabra over the curate’s body, she invokes her right to sanctuary, and Lady Julia’s father orders Julia and Brisbane to work together to determine what actually happened.
Although over 500 pages long, this book begs to be read in one sitting. Not only are Lady Julia and Brisbane exasperating, captivating, all-too-human characters, but the March family is equally bewitching. Raybourn may strain the bounds of Victorian credibility with the degree of freedom accorded Lady Julia and her sister Portia, an out and proud lesbian, but she adroitly slips in so many other concerns—earned wealth, inherited wealth and lack thereof, the demands of propriety, and even prejudice towards the Romany—that the book has true bite. Plus, the chemistry between Lady Julia and Brisbane is palpable. A third installment, please!