First Sentence: "I thought there would be camels," I protested.
The honeymoon of Lady Julia Grey and enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane has been interrupted by the arrival of Julia's sister, Portia, and brother, Plum. Jane, Portia's lover of many years, desperate to have a child, married moved to a tea plantation in India and is pregnant. She is also a widow, her husband having died under somewhat suspect circumstances. If Jane's impending child is male, he will be the heir to the plantation. Julia, Nicholas, Portia and Plum must keep Jane and the child safe as well as uncover a murderer, had it been murder.
It takes a very good book to keep me reading until 3 a.m. This book did just that.
Ms. Raybourn creates wonderful characters. Where Lady Julia starts off feeling reckless and stubborn, and her husband, Nicholas, overbearing and harsh, there is growth within the story where both characters learn and gain an understanding both to each other and to the reader. Julia's sister Portia, brother Plum, maid Morag, and all the secondary characters have weight and substance. None of the characters are two-dimensional extras; rather each plays an important role in the development of the plot.
The use of humor is delightful. It is often used to define the characters and relationships. When Portia is confronted by a less-than-fragrant smell, she states, "Julia, we are Englishwomen. We are not cowed by a little authentic local flavor." Raybourn's voice and dialogue effect a feeling both character and of period. In addition to which her excellent descriptions establish a strong sense of place and time.
Although one could consider this romantic suspense, it is not a fluffy book and has more layers than most. One should not dismiss it casually. The lightness is tempered by reminders of harsh reality which are both thought-provoking and introspective. This is a story of relationships and their definitions, of neglect and its results, of loss and strength and survival. There is a mystery, a quite good one, in fact, with a tragic and emotional. Ms. Raybourn has taken a book, and a series, which could be simple light entertainment and infused it with depth and impact.
DARK ROAD TO DARJEELING (Hist Mys-Lady Julia Grey/Nicholas Brisbane-India-1889/Victorian) - VG
Raybourn, Deanna - 4th in series
Mira, ©2010, US Trade Paperback - ISBN: 9780778328209