Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn

*****
Lady Julia and her fabulously dark and brooding husband in their fifth installment - yay!!  It's no secret, that I've loved this series and I think this is one of the best.

Julia and Brisbane have returned to set up home in London, after their extended honeymoon and murderous diversion in India, covered in the last novel.  Brisbane returns to his work as an investigator and Julia is desperately trying to show her worth as a genuine partner, but also dabbles in gunpowder and photography! Julia's very proper brother, Bellmont, who despite disapproving of her husband, asks him to secretly investigate Madame Seraphine, the resident medium of the Ghost Club.  Julia becomes drawn into the case after following her husband to protect him and a couple of untimely deaths unravel a heap of sinister secrets that leads them into personal danger.

As in the previous novels there is a fine balance of humour and drama.  The March family are a brilliant creation and have the potential to fill many more books.  I love Lord March's ongoing disagreements with Auld Lachy, the hermit; "...as I reminded him, one ought never to hire a hermit without proper references."
Julia remains pretty much the same, she's clever and beautiful, but also vain, bloody minded and a bit of a liability.  So who cares if she's a twenty-first century woman transported via a crinoline into Victorian times, it works for me.   Brisbane remains a favourite hero amongst my most recent reads, fitting the strong, handsome, flawed type that I favour!  The gradual disclosure of Brisbane's past, including the sojourn into the gypsy camp, is enthralling, Raybourn is gradually revealling just enough information to keep the flow, but there's obviously a lot more to come!  Yes, it still feels a bit Amelia Peabody-ish at times, but that's bound to happen where there's a strong Victorian female lead getting into danger.  I just hope a Sethos type character doesn't make an appearance, because that would kill it for me!
This is the first of the series that I've given the full five stars to, and although it isn't perfect, it was such a brilliant romp, I read it in a day and I wish there was an immediate follow up.  I feel that the main characters are now well established and the introduction of Sir Morgan Fielding has also opened up further opportunities for Nicholas and Julia to delve into more complicated situations, so I'm really looking forward to Book 6.