Sunday, 4 March 2018

Blog Tour || The Study of Silence by Malia Zaidi - Book Review

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the Book Blitz for The Study of Silence, a murder mystery by Malia Zaidi!


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?

About The Author

Malia Zaidi is a writer and painter, who grew up in Germany and lives in the US. An avid reader and traveler, she decided to combine these passions, and turn her long-term ambition of writing into a reality. The Study of Silence is the third book in The Lady Evelyn Mysteries.

My Review

Lady Evelyn is finishing her studies in Classics at Oxford University. She is invited to a dinner party at her tutor's house, where she forgets to collect her scarf at the end of the evening. Upon returning the next day to collect it, she finds her tutor dead in his office. Despite being warned off the case by Inspector Stanton, Evelyn can't help but be fascinated by the case, and finds herself tangled in a web of clues and secrets. Can she figure out who the killer is before they strike again?

This is actually the third novel in the 'Lady Evelyn Mystery' series, but I didn't have any issues reading this before the first two. There is enough back-detail given to keep any new readers covered without dominating the plot. The Study of Silence is a proper mystery - much more of a classic Agatha Christie-style read than the gritty procedurals I've reviewed recently. It's weird to describe a book about a murder as 'cosy', but that's definitely the most accurate word I can come up with. 

I absolutely love a historical fiction, and this one was so beautifully described. Set in Oxford in the late 1920s, it honestly felt more like I was watching a TV show than reading a book. The detail was perfect, setting the scene wonderfully and realistically. It all felt completely believable and well-researched, with little touches added to increase the period feel without being at all over the top or overly exaggerated. Having spent a bit of time in Oxford in the past, I found the portrayal of the 'city of dreaming spires' absolutely immaculately written. 

The book is written in first-person, which I love, and within a few pages I found myself very drawn to the main character, Lady Evelyn Carlisle. She is intelligent, independent, self-confident and determined - all the traits I wish I had! I found her to be incredibly well-written; there aren't many book characters who don't start to bother me at some point by saying or doing something unbelievable, but with Evelyn I found that even when her actions exasperated me, I understood exactly why she had done them. Perhaps if she were my real-life friend I'd find her persistence and inability to follow instructions a bit annoying, but as a book character I loved her need to understand and investigate.

In fact, there were many well-written, realistic characters in this. From the investigating police officer Inspector Stanton, to Evelyn's entangled housemates, and her charming cousin with the perfect family, there were lots of people who I really enjoyed getting to know. No one felt redundant or unnecessary as they all played unique parts in the story. In fact, I'm excited to go back and read the first two books in this series to find out even more about some of the characters.

I really enjoyed the lyrical feel to the prose. The writing is beautiful, evocative and precise, forming a perfect image. As I said before, I genuinely felt like I was watching something on TV as the writing was so expressive and vivid. Even the dialogue, an area which is so easy to mess up and so wont to become clunky, was poetic and eloquent. Malia Zaidi is truly very gifted when it comes to writing - an author to watch!

While the main focus of this book is on the murder mystery, there is also another side to the novel that I really enjoyed. Lady Evelyn became quite philosophical throughout the book, as she began to consider her place in the world, her quest for both happiness and independence, and the future for women like her in a time like the 1920s. She goes through a real journey of awakening, becoming very self-aware and learning who she is and what she wants. Even though Evelyn is from a very different time than me, and lives a very different life (although I wouldn't object to suddenly becoming a Lady), I found this aspect of her personality very relatable and relevant. 

In terms of the 'whodunnit' plotline, though, it was really engaging. The pacing was great - it takes a bit of time for the story to slowly unfold in front of you, and there were a couple of times I thought I had it nailed, but was wrong. I loved that not everything was immediately handed to the reader on a plate; the characters in this book hide many shady secrets, and the suspense kept me on edge - not that easy to do in what was a fairly 'gentle' read! The ending was wholly satisfying and I was very impressed with the plot.

This is a murder mystery with heart - it is equally intriguing and comforting, and transported me back to 1920s Oxford. I loved this, and am really looking forward to reading the first two books in this series.

Be sure to check out the other blogs hosting The Study of Silence on this Blog Blitz!

Huge thanks to Jenny at Neverland Blog Tours for providing me with this copy.

1 comment

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