"Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave."
These ominous words are the last threat that Sir Edward Grey receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, he collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.
Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that her husband was murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers damning evidence for herself, and realizes the truth.
Determined to bring the murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.
Fans of British historical thrillers will welcome Raybourn's perfectly executed debut. In 1886, Lady Julia Grey's husband, Edward, dies suddenly of the heart disease that plagues his family, including his reclusive cousin, Simon, who resides with the couple in their large London townhouse. Just as she learns to cope with the contradictions of monied widowhood, Julia is visited by taciturn private detective Nicholas Brisbane, who reveals that Edward had hired him to find the source of some threatening letters. Analysis confirms Brisbane's suspicions of murder, leading him and Julia on a testily collaborative search for the culprit. Julia probes servants, Simon and a variety of peers, discovering disturbing truths about a husband she never truly knew and a world of deception, disease and sexual obsession she could never have imagined. Deft historical detailing, sparkling first-person narration and the fledgling love between Julia and the often surprising Brisbane balance otherwise dark themes. None of the book's components is new, but Raybourn updates and deepens them so intelligently that they feel freshly minted and free of clich .