I selected The Dead Travel Fast on the strength author Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Gray mystery series. While Silent in the Grave is not perfect, it a decent first-in-a-series that showed real promise. I assumed that this book would be another mystery. The Dead, however, is not a mystery. It is a quasi Gothic Romance, more Victoria Holt than Ann Radcliffe, with strange goings on at a remote castle. It is also a romance. That last part leaves me under qualified as a reviewer for this book.
Set in 1858 Scotland and Transylvania, this is the story of an independent woman, Theodora, who visits an old friend (at that remote castle I mentioned earlier) and the friend’s very odd indeed relatives. Handsome brooding Count Andrei Dragulescu is on scene to make cryptic remarks, gesture haughtily, wash the heroine’s hands and, well, brood. He’s part of the set piece and either the reader is willing to play along or not. I kept thinking that he was a bit of a jerk but some may find him fascinating. Theodora sure does. Even when the locals start to suspect Andrei is a vampire she isn’t all that put off. Is Andrei half-man, half-bat? Is his whole family batty? How does Theodora manage to climb “The Devil’s Stairs” and a narrow turret staircase during the heyday of the hoopskirt?
If you can hang on for all 300 pages you’ll find the answers to most of the above. Portions of this book annoyed me – the random Romanian words, for one – and the repeated references to basil put me in the mood for a caprese salad. For those who like historical romances this is probably decent fare.For mystery fans it will be a disappointment. (Vampire fans will likely be disappointed too.)