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    Review of SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY by Deanna Raybourn (see her blog)

    Mira, January 2008

    When her brother marries and Italian beauty, Lady Julia Grey's father summons Julia and her two brothers home to the family estate in England. To her surprise, Julia discovers that Nicholas Brisbane--the man she holds some feelings of affection for--has become engaged to a pretty but uninteresting woman and that the two of them are visiting the estate. Also visiting are two of Julia's cousins--one now engaged to a much older man.

    The Christmas festivities are destroyed when one guest, a curate from the local church, is murdered. One of the cousins claims sanctuary--an outdated notion even if the old monastery where the March family lives had never been deconcecrated. Yet Julia, working with Brisbane, soon learns that only a man's strong hands could have killed the curate. Julia follows apparent ghosts, tangled leads, and her amorous heart to discover clues that reach well beyond that single murder.

    Author Deanna Raybourn writes beautifully, spinning a story set during the height of the British Empire. Julia, torn between her affection toward her young Italian friend and her frustration at Brisbane's incredible engagement, makes for a sympathetic character. In contrast to the richly drawn characters and setting, I found the mystery itself a bit convoluted. The not-quite-parallel mysteries of murder and jewel theft didn't really complement one another. And mystery readers may grow impatient waiting, as the murder doesn't occur until the midpoint in the novel.

    SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY is an interesting blend between romance and mystery. Raybourn is clearly a talented author--I'll certainly look for more of her books in the future.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 9/13/08

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