BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #37: Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn
Dark Enquiry, the fifth book in the Lady Julia Grey series, finds Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane taking up married life in London and becoming involved in solving the murder of a spiritualist/spy. Continuing with the struggle that has beset their relationship since book one, Lady Julia is intent on being an active partner in the detective work, while Brisbane is just as intent on protecting her from it. However, he is slowly coming around to realizing her worth and abilities, thus making sure she has the appropriate training to do the job. Julia’s younger brother Plum has also come on board to work for Brisbane, giving Julia the opportunity to try to help him forget his unrequited love for his sister-in-law. Meanwhile, Julia’s snobby older brother has gotten himself into a spot of trouble and has to bury his pride to ask for Brisbane’s help in retrieving some ill-advisedly written love letters, thus starting off the whole story.
The period details were a great deal of fun. These included use of grave robber-proof mausoleums in Highgate Cemetery and the setup of a spiritualist’s house and how many of the effects were achieved. Julia’s clothes are also always a delight to try to visualize.
Deanna Raybourn is very good at mystery plot twists – the villain is always plausible, right in front of your face, yet always surprises me. In this book, she weaves her villain in deftly, with nice misdirection. This book was less unsettling than previous books; in this series, I’ve come to expect that the villain will be crazy, but abused or deeply damaged in a way that makes them, if not sympathetic, maybe a little pathetic, but this book had slightly more stereotypical bad guys. I didn’t feel as much sympathy for either the dead or the killer.
The book continues to set up where it can go next, as it turns out Brisbane is not only a detective but also a British spy who interacts with Julia’s illegitimate cousin. I predict the next book in the series will be less detecting, more spying to protect the realm.