Absence from those we love is self from self - a deadly banishment.
Although happily married and content with their domestic lives, Lady Julia & Brisbane start getting edgy whilst they await for an investigative opportunity to open. Lady Julia seemingly happy that Brisbane has ensured her that she will play the role of partner as long as she grasps the menial tasks set out for her (including picking locks) and follow his orders to the T, suspects that her husband isn’t being entirely honest when he persists that he has nothing ‘of interest’ on the books. So it comes as no surprise when Lady Julia seeks to prove her own worth, sensing her husband’s dishonesty setting out in pursuit of a ghost investigation, following her husband only to discover that he is secretly meeting with her brother Bellmont who is seemingly linked to the mysterious Spirit Club where the likes of high ranking officials (all men nonetheless) meet to connect to the dead.
Disguised as a gentleman, Lady Julia manages to talk herself into admittance into the club, after nothing out of the ordinary occurs during the séance; Lady Julia begins to wonder what all the fuss is about until she is dragged from behind into a secret passage by none other than her beloved Brisbane. After duelling with his wife for attending the club, Brisbane explains that he needs to search Madame Seraphine’s boudoir to look for some letters; after a failed attempt at locating her brother’s letters, they retrieve back into the secret passage, only to witness Madame Seraphine’s murder first hand.
The book weaves around Lady Julia & Brisbane, unlikely partners in crime unravelling the mysteries of the Spirit Club, the murder of Madame Seraphine and trying to prove Bellmont’s innocence after a brief romantic liaison with the murdered spiritualist. Unbeknownst to Lady Julia at the time, the Spirit Club is a place where spies meet in order to receive coded messages to pass on to their respective parties, all cleverly orchestrated through Madame Seraphine and her messages from the dead, there is seemingly much more at stake involving the British Royal Crown and Germany who are trying to overthrown the British government.
This book delves deeper into the relationship between Lady Julia and Brisbane and reinforces the depth of their love for one another. Although opposites when it comes to tactics and approach (when pursuing lines of enquiry) an equilibrium is reached, or at least some form of mutual understanding, but it isn’t until the very last chapters of the book that Lady Julia understands why Brisbane constantly fears loosing her on a case, that above all else, she is the most important thing to him in the world, which is why he continues to insist that she doesn’t get too involved in his cases.
I have been patiently awaiting this book, since discovering the series through The Burton Book Review (and silently kicking myself for having not discovered it much earlier) and was not at all disappointed. Deanna Raybourn’s The Dark Enquiry lived up to all my expectations. Not only is it a tale filled with espionage and surprise, we revisit old friends from previous books who make up the series some of which include; the Gypsies, Portia and the baby, Plum, Lady Julia’s hot-headed father and his disobedient hermit, with the addition of some new characters whom I’m sure will make an appearance in future novels, in particular, the allusive Mr Morgan. Like all the previous novels, I thoroughly enjoyed each and every page, it was every bit as good as it’s predecessors and I must admit, I am saddened thinking about how long there may be to wait for another Lady Julia Grey novel…(they really are THAT good) and I honestly couldn’t read it quick enough, I also enjoyed the few moments of ‘oh, didn’t see that one coming’ and of coarse, after falling in love with Grim in the earlier novels, very much enjoyed the addition of the sweet little dormouse… to get the full enjoyment out of this novel, you really do need to have read the whole series or else you won’t fully understand the characters, all of which, I highly recommend.