Thursday, January 29, 2009

Non Laughter Reviews

Deanna Raybourn

Victorian widow learns her husband was murdered and decides to assist private investigator.

What Works
Many elements, from first sentence on: "To say I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching on the floor."
The story is told in first person, with the plot mirroring the heroine's development. She starts out somewhat bland, somewhat rigid, not entirely content with her role and stifling societal conventions but not really ready to break out of them either. She isn't especially likable at first, taking the good fortune of her privileged position more or less for granted, and writing entire groups of people off on the basis of arrogant prejudice, such as when her more rebellious sister recommends an affair and she rejects the idea of a liaison with a footman because they are employed for their looks rather than their brains.
But as time goes by, the plot increasingly picks up speed as she is forced to examine her preconceptions - about faith, class, ethnicity, family, sexuality- one by one. The resulting person is a stronger, more sympathetic, and more likable one.

What Doesn't
Very little. Apprentice Writer guessed the identity of the murderer early on, but still enjoyed the process of how that person was exposed. Readers who like all loose ends tied up may be disappointed, since the Nicholas Brisbane mentioned in the first sentence is all one would hope a good-looking, enigmatic, intelligent, highly capable hero to be, but the attraction between the protagonists is not expressed in this volume. No doubt the relationship will be further explored in this continuing series.

Great introduction to what promises to be a wonderful suspense series, this book won this year's Rita award. The second volume, Silent in the Sanctuary, takes Lady Julia Grey to Italy - one of AW's most favorite settings. The third, Silent in the Moors, will launch in March.

The author also maintains an entertaining blog whose name alone makes it worth a visit: Blog -a-Gogo.


Abby said...

We are on the same creepy reading vibe. I'm halfway through this one... loving it.

M. said...

Wow. That's three for three so far. Tell me that you have 'What a Scoundrel Wants' lined up for your next historical choice and Devon Monk's debut story for your contemporary and I'll be officially flabbergasted. Gasterflabbed, also.

Abby said...

One for two. I don't know who Devon Monk is, thank goodness. Otherwise I'd be freaked out!

M. said...

She's a debut urban fantasy author, blogging at 'Deadline Dames', and the first ten pages of 'Magic to the Bone' have impressed me.