"You cannot play at being a detective, Julia. To do so demeans the work of one who does it seriously." (261)Thoughts on Silent in the Grave, Lady Julia #1
Thoughts on Silent in the Sanctuary, Lady Julia #2
Thoughts on Silent on the Moor, Lady Julia #3
Eight months after Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane were married, they are still traveling the Mediterranean, in no hurry to return to England. Unexpectedly, Julia's sister Portia hears from her old lover, the recently widowed Jane Cavendish. Jane is expecting, and wants the comfort of people she knows; it isn't until the group arrives at the Cavendish tea plantation near the Himalayas that Jane reveals she believes her husband was murdered. Having quarreled with Brisbane and left him behind, Julia starts investigating the case herself, encountering some new characters and some familiar ones.
This one was a little slower for me to get into. I don't know if it's because the tension of will they/won't they—or rather when will they—between Julia and Brisbane was gone. Or because there seems to be less personal threat as they investigate. I don't know. But once I got into it, I was hooked.
I really liked the journey in India and the landscape. I appreciated that Raybourn used quotes from Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore—rather than Shakespeare, as in the previous books—to reflect their location and mindset. I didn't love the condescension of Miss Cavendish regarding the locals and needing to give them jobs and take care of them; this same sentiment was present in A Spear of Summer Grass as well. But I forgive that because it was period appropriate.
Mysteries were a little meh. I knew immediately that the White Rajah was Brisbane's dad, although I don't know that Raybourn was necessarily trying to hide that from the reader. I was unsettled by Robin from our first real introduction to him, and especially the dissection and taxidermy of animals seemed very much in line with the triad of indicators for a serial killer. I knew that Lucy was not talking about Harry Cavendish, but wasn't sure who she would be talking about. The illegitimate twins again, right after the same device was used in Silent on the Moor, was surprising.
Even though I was well hooked by the time it happened, I was very upset about the way that Brisbane treated Julia when she found out that he had hired her brother to help him, and that he'd completely deceived her about many of his activities while he was in India and at the plantation. He actually locked her in the dressing room when she confronted him about his deception because he didn't want to deal with her. Use your big boy words, Brisbane. This seemed kind of inconsistent with their relationship. Was Brisbane ever keen on Julia trying to be a detective? Well, no. But this was a step too far. And then the way that she reacted? Come on. Brisbane actually stoops to trying to explain to her how he feels, and basically pleads with her not to get involved because he doesn't want her life in danger—was that so hard that you had to lock her in a dressing room rather than elucidate?—and Julia thinks to herself, "His tone was gentler, almost pleading for me to understand, and I hated myself for reducing this proud and dignified man to a supplicant." (269) Do you remember the way he just treated you? And now you hate yourself for actually holding him accountable for that treatment and the lies that he told you? She's always seemed like a lady who had a spine, but I'm not going to lie, I lost a bit of respect for her with this sentence.
Jane dying was one of the most heartwrenching things that has ever happened. It was probably the thing that has affected me most while reading this series. Just so incredibly sad that she's just gotten everything she wanted and then she dies. And for her and Portia to be reunited and to think they are going to get to be a family...ugh. Especially because we don't know a whole lot about Jane, but what we do know is that she is basically the kindest, most supportive woman ever. I coincidentally got something in my eye around that time. Good thing my tear ducts were doing their job to flush whatever it was right out.
As I said, it took me a minute to get into this one, but by the end I was really excited for what was to come in the next book. I'm hoping there will be more about Portia and Jane the Younger, because I think that situation has a lot of potential.