Raybourn makes a sensational debut, finding the humor and color in the
notoriously dour and drab Victorian
era through her unusual heroine's
eyes. She also mounts a stout challenge to the cleverest armchair sleuth. Best of all, it's the first book in a new series.

The death of Lady Julia Grey's husband, Edward, is not unexpected; the men in his family are known to suffer from an always-fatal heart ailment. But Julia doesn't know that Edward received several threats prior to his demise and engaged Nicholas Brisbane to investigate. Unconvinced by a visit from Brisbane, Julia refuses to consider the possibility of murder -- until she accidentally finds one of the terrifying notes.

Persuading him to resume his inquiries is as challenging as getting his consent to allow her to participate in the search, but Julia is successful on both counts. Now they must catch a brazen, cunning killer who may be closer at hand than either suspects. (MIRA, Jan., 512 pp., $21.95)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer