The Dark Enquiry
With a plot that sounded more interesting than it actually was, I found myself liking – but not loving – this latest in the series featuring Lady Julia and her beloved Nicholas Brisbane.
As the book opens, Lady Julia and Nicholas appear to have settled into an arrangement in which Julia assists Nicholas with his private detective work. Julia feels as if Nicholas marginalizes her – which he does – and determines to prove herself a worthy partner. Her opportunity arises when one of her brothers engages Nicholas and he keeps it from her.
The trail leads to the Spirit Club, a venue in which nightly séances are held and which Julia believes may be in use by spies. She goes in disguise and – while in the company of Nicholas who is also in disguise – witnesses the death of the medium by what appears to be poison. Soon enough Julia and Nicholas find themselves hiding with the gypsies where certain revelations about Nicholas’ past are made.
The chief conflict between Nicholas and Julia is due to what he perceives as her lack of care for her own personal safety. It’s hard to take sides here because Julia does seem a shade impulsive and Nicholas’ concerns seem well founded. Still, Julia – and the reader – have a better understanding of Nicholas and what motivates him in the pages of this book.
The characters of Julia, Nicholas, and Julia’s eccentric family remain consistent – and compelling. Portia is now raising Jane’s daughter and several of her brothers make appearances in this book. This is one of those rare series in which appearances by those near and dear actually help keep things moving.
Honestly, there’s nothing really wrong with this one, except that the plot never quite caught my attention – it sounds as if it should, but it simply didn’t. Still, I did keep reading happily enough.
Series are tough. As long as the couple is happy – as Julia and Nicholas basically are – the plots of the mysteries need to be compelling enough to make up for the lack of any real relationship tension and this one didn’t quite accomplish that for me. While definitely not a stand-alone read, this is the first in the series not to earn a DIK from me and I’m taking note of it. I certainly don’t plan on dropping out – heaven forbid – but The Dark Enquiry is a decidedly good read. Just not a great one.