Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn.  Normally, if I’m 200 pages into a mystery and no crime has yet to be committed, I either get a little antsy or totally bored.  Although it does take a while for any criminal action to get started in this second volume of the Lady Julia Grey series, the time spent learning about each character is not misspent and is quite enjoyable.  This is due to the excellent work of Raybourn, whose first story featuring Julia and her dark and mysterious suitor, Nicholas Brisbane, Silent in the Grave, was also quite good.  This time around it’s Christmastime at Bellmont Abbey, the converted monastery that now is the family home to Lord March, Julia’s father.  The company gathered there includes two of Julia’s brothers, one with a new foreign wife, an attractive Italian suitor, her father’s female companion, an irritable aunt, two poor cousins, one of whom is getting married to a self-made businessman, his own poor kinsman, and the soon-to-be Lord Wargrave in the form of Brisbane, plus his new fiancée.  Once this roller coaster of a story begins its downward plunge, it really takes off with a dead guest in the sanctuary, attempted poisonings, jewel thefts, disappearing guests, a ghost or two and everyone stuck in the abbey by a snowstorm.  The final solution is merely adequate and the romance between Julia and Brisbane is a bit overdone at times, but the twists and turns along the way are first-rate and will keep readers interested throughout.

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