November 15, 2011

The Dark Enquiry: Starring a Headstrong Lady Detective

The Dark Enquiry is the fifth book in the Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn. In this latest adventure, beautiful Lady Julia and her private investigator husband, Nicholas Brisbane, have returned to London from their extended honeymoon.

The devilishly handsome Brisbane wants to protect Julia and keep her out of his work, but Julia is determined to help. She starts by shadowing Brisbane around London, dressed in disguise, trying to figure out why he was meeting with her brother -- Lord Bellmont, a conservative leader in the House of Lords.

As the case unfolds, Brisbane reveals a connection between a mysterious medium and Lord Bellmont. He tries to exclude her from the dangerous aspects of the case, but Julia pretty much runs headlong into trouble time and time again, and Brisbane has to keep rescuing her, even turning to his Roma (gypsy) relatives for help.

Then, Julia finds herself and her detective skills caricatured in a gossipy newspaper, and her father, the Earl March, is furious with her. Julia must try to balance helping Brisbane with placating her father, and establishing her own role as a married woman and detective.

Several of Julia's nine siblings make appearances in this book, as do servants and some minor characters from the other books. It's a fun, fast-paced read, and I was quite happy that the setting returned to London, because the last book (which was set in India) was my least favorite in the series. Raybourn does a great job of portraying life in the upper class of Victorian London, and making the complex relationship between Julia and Brisbane both believable and extremely entertaining. If you enjoy books with strong heroines and historical settings, this would be a perfect pick.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure! It's lots of fun.

Have you read any Deanna Raybourn books? Any other books set in Victorian London?

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