Yum. The only word that comes to mind to describe Deanna Raybourn’s The Dark Enquiry. I have a new “must buy” author, and I cannot wait to dive into her backlist.
Now, I always worry when I write a review of a mystery/suspense type book, because I may inadvertently throw in a spoiler that will just ruin a book for one of you. So I will refrain from giving you a whole bunch of details about The Dark Enquiry. I will just say, I love Brisbane, the hero, with the kind of devotion I normally reserve for characters played on the silver screen by Colin Firth. No weak praise, that.
And Lady Julia, dear Brisbane’s wife and partner in (solving) crime, is about as appealing a heroine as I’ve come across in some time. Thank goodness Dear Ms. Raybourn gave Brisbane a heroine worthy of him!
We open the novel with a cute scene wherein Julia is (once again) blowing something up during an experiment with gunpowder – all part of her efforts to learn the skills necessary for her to become a full partner in Brisbane’s work as an inquiry agent, or basically what you and I, in our modern lingo, would call a “private eye.” The scene has a cute, steampunky vibe to it, and it sucked me right in. I signed on wholeheartedly for the full voyage just on the strength of that first scene.
But the rest of the book did not disappoint. Julia and Brisbane are hot on the trail of a murderer – one who has done away with one of London’s top mediums, who just happens to be (shall we say) intimate with Julia’s ever-so-proper brother, a member of Parliament. Their efforts to unveil the murderer are just flat-out fun, and their marriage, based on real, heart-felt love and a healthy dose of lust, is a great backdrop for their sleuthing. Think Scarecrow and Mrs. King or the sexual tension between Dr. Brennan and Agent Booth in Bones.
Now, this novel wasn’t a “ten”. Like all sequels, it had a good bit of backstory thrown in, although Ms. Raybourn handled it with a fairly deft hand. But I cannot wait to go to my local bookstore to get the first book in the series, because I have a strong feeling that it may merit the elusive “10”.
Nope, no more details. I don’t want to spoil the story for you. But trust me, my darlings, this is a book – and a series – you don’t want to miss.
(Did I mention that I love this book????)