Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Review: Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn


Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Mira
Publish Date: October 1, 2010
Paperback, 400 pages
Historical Mystery, Romance, Lady Julia Grey #4

My Review:
Why I read this:  I was contacted by the publicist and the book sounded interesting and different from what I usually read, but in line with what I read enough that I thought I would enjoy it.  And really the cover is just beautiful as well as the title.

How is the novel driven:  Plot - the characters are important, but the detecting of the case is what drives this book ultimately.

My thoughts:   Humor, that is what struck me in the first few pages of the book.  Not in the slapstick over the top way of Stephanie Plum, but in the subtle sarcastic and witty way that I really enjoy it and best fits with a historical novel of a British family.  So Dark Road to Darjeeling was off to an excellent start for me with the humor and it never let up.  I was intrigued.  At one moment the book was very lighthearted, poking fun at the English ways and this unconventional family and the next it had a darker feeling.

This book was not at all what I expected.  You know the amateur sleuth type novels that are happy and cute (cozy mysteries), well Dark Road to Darjeeling had that, but the darker more suspenseful side was there as well and such a delight to read.  I loved how it was unexpected.  I guess if you have read other Lady Julia mysteries this will be expected but since this was my first, it was all new to me.

The mystery/suspense plot was well-done and though I did figure out who did it, it was not easy and it was really only a hunch on my part.  Ms. Raybourn does a magnificent job making sure there are lots of suspects and lots of reasons to believe each person is responsible for Freddie's death.  It was well-done and keeps your interest throughout.

I also love the family plotline and Lady Julia and Brisbane's marriage elements that are through this book.  I think they are what take this book to a higher level.  Lady Julia and Brisbane don't have the conventional blissful marriage, but they are muddling through and they have great love for each other.  This book is not conventional in any means and I think that is a breath of fresh air.

I have not read any of the others in this series and thought this book read well as a stand-alone.  I will go back and read the other now because I am intrigued by the characters and want to learn more about them and see them solve other mysteries as well.  I also can't wait for the next book as a nice teaser comes at the end of this one.

If you like historical mysteries and exotic settings then this is a book for you.  If you enjoy interesting characters and humor, then this is a book for you.   Dark Road to Darjeeling is a wonderful book and I can't wait to read more of Lady Julia, Brisbane and her family.

One quote that I really liked (this is from the ARC):
Brisbane regarded her thoughtfully. "Morag, the point of learning to swim is rather to prevent drowning."
She sniffed. "Ha! My father was a sailor, he was. And he always said them that learnt to swim died the worst. They flailed around and waited to be saved while the sharks circled and took them a piece at a time, prolonging the agony. But them that drowned quick were spared the pain of it."
Brisbane looked at me and shrugged. "The logic is faultless," he said.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:

After eight idyllic months in the Mediterranean, Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband are ready to put their investigative talents to work once more. At the urging of Julia's eccentric family, they hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly widowed Jane Cavendish. Living on the Cavendish tea plantation with the remnants of her husband's family, Jane is consumed with the impending birth of her child—and with discovering the truth about her husband's death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next?

Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, dark deeds are buried and malicious thoughts flourish. The Brisbanes uncover secrets and scandal, illicit affairs and twisted legacies. In this remote and exotic place, exploration is perilous and discovery, deadly. The danger is palpable and, if they are not careful, Julia and Nicholas will not live to celebrate their first anniversary.

Lady Julia Grey Series:
Silent in the Grave
Silent in the Sanctuary
Silent in the Moor
Dark Road to Darjeeling

About the Author:

deanna_raybourn In her refurbished study, surrounded by painted peony pink walls and an elegant crystal chandelier that dangles from a Mediterranean blue ceiling, Raybourn constructs an inspirational collage for each book she writes.  For Silent in the Grave, Raybourn won the 2008 RITA Award for "Novel with Strong Romantic Elements."  The Lady Julia Grey series has been nominated for several other awards, including an Agatha, a Daphne du Maurier, a Last Laugh and two Dilys Winns.

After enduring too many scorching summers in San Antonio, the award-winning author and native Texan moved her family to charming Williamsburg, Virginia, where her father's family name is still engraved on a pew in Bruton Parish Church, the same church whose bell was donated by her mother's ancestor.  In her old Colonial-style home, Raybourn is in the perfect setting to continue her historical Lady Julia Grey series.

As a former teacher and student with an emphasis on Shakespearean studies, Raybourn dabbled in English and history but always reverted back to her renowned taste.  "I noted that my favorite novels were all historical, British and witty.  They all had a mystery at the heart and a touch of romance," she says.  "I only read things I loved for a year to develop my own voice.  I always approach my writing from a reader's perspective--readers enjoy when you make an effort."  An avid blogger on writing, clothing and travel, she continues to entertain her readers with classic romantic characters, and style with a dollop of humor.

Her website
Her Blog

FTC Information: I received this book from Erin McNichols at Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.