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Dark Road to Darjeeling by Dianna Raybourn

I am surprised I have not run into Raybourn’s “Lady Julia Grey Novel” series before. Her heroine, Lady Julia, is feisty and easy to like, despite her spoiled ways.

The author effectively takes the reader inside the head of Lady Julia as she mulls over victims, potential suspects, her opinions about the people she meets, descriptions of the exotic locations she and her husband Brisbane visit, and a multitude of daily issues and situations. She is an interesting mix: one moment she is defending Victorian values and mores, and the next she is angling for equal partnership with her spouse, Brisbane, in his private investigation business.

In “Dark Road to Darjeeling” Lady Julia and Brisbane are just winding up a lengthy honeymoon when Julia’s sister, Portia, and brother, Plum, appear on the scene in Egypt and convince them that they must help a friend in India who is pregnant and has just lost her husband. They hook Julia and, eventually, Brisbane, in to investigating the suspicious circumstances surrounding Frederick Cavendish’s death. They also fear that his wife, Jane, is also in danger, especially if she gives birth to a boy. A male heir will inherit the tea plantation, Peacock, while if she has a girl she can take her back to England and the relatives who have long worked the plantation will inherit. Are Harry Cavendish, the plantation manager, or his Aunt, the ones at fault for Frederick’s demise?

The main problem I had with this well-written, and colorfully descriptive book is that there are so many plausible suspects that after awhile, I gave up even looking for the clues of “who done it.” I was content to just follow along with the story and let Julia and Brisbane figure it out. The outcome will surprise and sadden many.

I look forward to the next Julia Grey novel. The author notes indicate that Raybourn is hard at work on the next saga.

Liz Nichols

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