Pour a china cup of dark, floral tea and settle in for a wonderful read in this latest from Deanna Raybourn, Dark Road to Darjeeling. Ms. Raybourn has created some of the most intelligent and memorable characters in historical fiction and I’m still amazed how she crafts their mysteries, secrets, and vulnerabilities within each serial novel. Even in this story, made more complex by the new and sometimes awkward layer of marriage, she never strays from the yin and yang magic that drew Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane to aid each other in Silent in the Grave. Though this novel felt slower (no doubt from all the back story that had to be incorporated so that new readers would understand long-standing dynamics) it was no less glorious in the hands of Ms. Raybourn’s masterful writing. She has a genuine gift for writing that one doesn’t see in many modern authors. Her sentences can be, and often are, brilliant. And she’s a subtle story-teller. There are few boisterous moments that a make a reader anticipate a big reveal–instead, she quite simply surprises readers with round after round of onion skin layers until you see what she wanted you to see all along–that people are never, ever what they seem. Despite the neatness of her murder investigations, the real beauty comes in discovering the characters who beguile us with each new story. And this one, like the first novel, reveals that in even in age we often think of in gilded terms, human beings were disturbed, corrupt, misguided, and brash in a way that feel all together contemporary. I implore you to follow Julia and Nicholas through this adventure in the tea growing mountains of India.