Title: The Study of Silence
Author: Malia Zaidi
Publication Date: 27th February 2018
This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review
About the book:
Lady Evelyn Carlisle has returned home to England, where she is completing her degree at St. Hugh’s, a women’s college in Oxford. Her days are spent poring over ancient texts and rushing to tutorials. All is well until a fateful morning, when her peaceful student life is turned on its head. Stumbling upon the gruesome killing of someone she thought she knew, Evelyn is plunged into a murder investigation once more, much to the chagrin of her friends and family, as well as the intriguing Detective Lucas Stanton. The dreaming spires of Oxford begin to appear decidedly less romantic as she gathers clues, and learns far more than she ever wished to know about the darkness lurking beyond the polished veneer. Can she solve the crime before the killer strikes once more, this time to Evelyn’s own detriment?
What I Thought:
When I got the email asking if I’d like to take part in a weekend blog blitz for The Study of Silence I was intrigued, the plot sounded fascinating, and while I tend to stick to police procedurals by authors like Ian Rankin and Alex Gray, and more recently Carol Wyer and James Oswald I’ve read the odd book that falls into the cosy crime and mystery area of crime fiction and enjoyed them so I volunteered and I was certainly not disappointed!
Lady Evelyn Carlisle has returned to Oxford to complete her Classics degree at St. Hugh’s. Nearing the end of the Michaelmas term Evelyn and two of her housemates are invited to an end of term party at one of the tutor’s residences. Early the next morning Evelyn realises she has left her shawl behind at the Longfellow residence, deciding to retrieve it she drives across the city to discover her tutor’s door ajar and steps inside just as the maid discovers her master murdered in his study. Interviewed as a witness, Evelyn finds herself unable to keep away from the investigation, offering theories and discovering information from the officer in charge Inspector Stanton, she slowly becomes more involved to her detriment and the concern of Daniel and Briony.
The Study of Silence is actually the third book in the Lady Evelyn Carlisle Mysteries series, however I’ve not read either of the previous books and I don’t feel I’ve missed out at all – that’s not to say I won’t be going back to read the previous stories – just that The Study of Silence is perfectly enjoyable as a standalone novel and I didn’t feel I was missing out on vital information about the characters because I had not read the earlier works, although there were certainly hints about her time in Crete and France I would enjoy finding out more about.
There was a wonderful variety of characters within the novel.
Naturally the central character is Lady Evelyn herself, I was really drawn to her character, while her love of knowledge and wish for independence may not seem so unusual in the 21st century for the mid to late 1920’s this would mark her out as slightly unusual, not wanting to immediately settle down and take up her place as a wife and mother. I enjoyed Evelyn’s interactions with the other characters throughout the story, particularly her cousin and her family, Daniel and Inspector Stanton. Things may not always go exactly to plan for Evelyn as she finds herself in less the ideal situations, occasionally to the frustration of those around her, I feel she does everything she does from a genuine desire to help.
I also really enjoyed Inspector Stanton, we’re first introduced to him as Evelyn assists him and his son after they swerve off the road to avoid hitting an animal. I have to admit I loved the way he quickly became resigned to the fact Evelyn wanted to be involved with the case and shared information whilst trying to keep her safe as best he can. I also really enjoyed the little hints at his life, the introduction of his son Thom, small bits of information about his wife, and hints of some sort of disagreement with his scholar father. I would love to find out more about him in future stories.
I also liked Daniel, Evelyn’s partner, Briony, Evelyn’s cousin and her family, I get the impression that they feature more in the first two books, so I am keen to find out a little more about them!
And then we have Oxford! I feel like Oxford itself was a character within the novel, I do love things set in Oxford, with talk of its grand colleges and libraries, punting on the River Cherwell, the perfect setting for the story! While a couple of decades too early I could easily picture Endeavour Morse pulling up at the police station in a Jaguar, or popping out of one of the offices.
I felt the plot was well paced and full of hints and intrigue, the odd red herring but enough clues looking back to not feel cheated by the reveal.
Would I Recommend?
Yes, this is a wonderful read for anyone who loves a cosy crime mystery, or as a refreshing read between some darker crime fiction if that’s more your thing. I thoroughly enjoyed The Study of Silence and don’t feel I missed out from having not read the two earlier novels in the series. I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes out for any additional stories in this series and hoping this is not the last we’ve seen of Oxford and Inspector Stanton!
Want to buy it?
As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?