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Silent in the Sanctuary: A Lady Julia Grey Mystery    by Deanna Raybourn order for
Silent in the Sanctuary
by Deanna Raybourn
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

After nearly perishing while investigating her husband's untimely demise, Lady Julia Grey retires to Italy to recover her health and re-evaluate her life. Her adventure has left her longing for something more important to do with her life than embroidering cushions and pouring tea.

A timely letter from her father demands that she and her two brothers end their Mediterranean sojourn and come home for the Christmas season. With Lysander and Eglamour (as well as a new sister-in-law and a doting Italian count in tow), Julia returns to Sussex and her much loved childhood home, Bellmont Abbey. The sprawling seven hundred year old structure was once a medieval monestary rife with history, secret passages and the odd ghost. Between the mayhem caused by her gathering siblings, assorted eccentric relatives, and a growing host of invited guests, Julia and her older and very free-thinking elder sister Portia are kept busy making sure all runs smoothly.

There are even more surprises in store for Julia however: somehow, her father neglected to mention that he'd also invited enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. Already annoyed over his abrupt dismissal of her after they successfully solved her husband's murder, Julia finds herself even more annoyed when she discovers that the maddeningly enigmatic man is affianced to a voluptuous blonde heiress. Julia believes there's much more to their match than either will admit. But her suspicions must be put on hold after one of Julia's relatives confesses to the murder of an outspoken local curate. Once again, Julia and Brisbane set aside their differences to investigate murder most foul.

Silent in the Sanctuary is a beautifully written, richly detailed and marvellously entertaining confection, filled with a colourful parade of quirky characters and situations, clever dialogue and an intriguing mystery where each player eventually becomes a suspect. Lady Julia is an engaging heroine who propels the story forward through adept (and often humorous) first person observations of her upper crust lifestyle as well as her family's myriad foibles. While not essential, it would be helpful to read Raybourn's debut novel Silent in the Grave first, to fully appreciate the nuances between Julia and her many relatives as well as her tentative, yet smouldering relationship with Nicholas Brisbane.

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