Silent in the Sanctuary
Mira, Jan 2008, $13.95 paper
In 1887 Lady Julia Grey still mentally heals from the murder of her husband, her own near death, and the burning down of her home (see SILENT IN THE GRAVE). To help her recover she left England and its burning memories for Italy accompanied by two of her March family brothers and her new Italian sister-in-law.
However, with Christmas arriving soon, the March family patriarch wants everyone to spend the holidays at his vast seven century old estate Belmont Abbey, a former Cistercian monastery. Thus Julia reluctantly heeds her father’s summons and returns to England. Among the non-kin guests is enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. Julia is shocked to learn he is engaged to a simmering woman that is just not right for the intelligent investigator. When her pearls are stolen and guest curate Lucian Snow is murdered, Julia decides investigate over the objection of Brisbane. To keep her out of harms way he allows her to join him, which ironically places her in harm’s way.
This late Victorian whodunit with a touch of romance is fun to read due to the relationship between the professional enquiry agent and the amateur sleuth. Readers will laugh at the double entendres and can “see” the bewildered (only when it comes to Lady Julia) Nicholas raise his eyebrows several times at the actions of his unwanted but new sidekick when it comes to detecting; their attraction adds to the amusing antics. Fans of lighthearted late nineteenth romps will appreciate the return from Italy of Lady Julia and her frustrated “mentor”.