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The Dark Enquiry - Book Review

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Published August 21st 2012
Deanna Raybourn reveals more in latest Julia Grey novel
American mystery-romance writer Deanna Raybourn's new book, The Dark Enquiry, has all the markings of a Gothic suspense thriller.

Lady Julia Grey and her new husband, the private investigator Nicholas Brisbane, have returned to London after their honeymoon in Egypt and business trip to India. In this sense, "business" being solving murders, which the pair have been doing since Silent in the Grave. Julia and Brisbane have been meeting each other over dead bodies, the first being that of her first husband Sir Edward Grey. Four books later, they are officially married and in business together too.

Each book in the Julia Grey series reveals a little about Brisbane's character. In this one, we learn about the real nature of his work as well as his special Gift, which is tied to his gypsy ancestry.

This time, Julia's eldest brother Lord Bellmont, a parliamentarian, seeks Brisbane's help for an urgent matter but swears him to secrecy at the same time. The trail leads to the exclusive Ghost Club where the alluring Madame Seraphine holds evening seances. But there is something sinister going on at the spiritualist haunt, and issues of great importance to national security are at stake here. The club holds its fair share of secrets, the type that men will kill to keep.

On that point, The Dark Enquiry reads like a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Arthur Conan Doyle would surely be proud of Deanna Raybourn for what she has done here.

Suspenseful: The Dark Enquiry, in which Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane are partners in both business and marriage. This time, they have a tricky case involving Julia's eldest brother and some sensitive information of national significance.

Raybourn's books are well-researched, with this one having the backdrop of great power rivalries in 1890s Europe driving the plot. After all, she was a history major at university. The lives of women in Victorian-era England are realistically fleshed out. Having said that, the next possible instalment of the series will be eagerly awaited. Hopefully it would have Julia and Brisbane working together as a cohesive team.
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