A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
Berkley, 2017. Hardcover, 352 pages.
In this second installment of the Veronica Speedwell mysteries, the plucky heroine and her brash side kick return. While I have not reviewed the first book, A Curious Beginning, I did read it prior to starting this novel. It was a fun romp and the same could be said of A Perilous Undertaking.
Set in later Victorian London, butterfly hunter Veronica is invited to attend a women’s scientific club with a friend. While there, Veronica meets Lady Sundridge who asks her to investigate a crime as the lady knows that art patron Miles Ramsforth is innocent. Ramsforth his accused of the brutal murder of his mistress and patron, Artemisia. Joining Veronica, is her natural historian colleague, Stoker. Will they be able to get to the bottom of the affair?
As the hunt goes on, the book is also filled with further stories. One line features Stoker’s family, the Templeton-Vanes as they try to resolve an issue. Another sees Stoker and Veronica helping to establish a new natural history museum sponsored by Lord Rosemorran. And the banter between the two is a highlight as they are both stubborn but clearly care for each other.
As mentioned, this series by Raybourn is fun to read. Her characters clearly know their trades while also being open to new ideas. The banter seems effortless, yet one must know a great deal of thought was put into that writing. And Raybourn’s attention to detail is meticulous. While I have not read her other series, Lady Julia Grey, I think I would like to give it a try. I have read two of Raybourn’s stand-alone novels, City of Jasmine and A Spear of Summer Grass. Both of those historical mystery/romance novels are not as good as the Veronica Speedwell series. I had felt reading those books that there was not enough character development and this series does allow for that and thus I feel more connected to the characters. That said, I did enjoy City of Jasmine. To compare to another mystery series, the Maggie Hope Mysteries by Susan Elia MacNeal (I have reviewed the first five (1-3, 4 and 5) in the series, but if I review the sixth I think I’ll spoil too many plots), both have strong characters who are ahead for their era and very relatable.
For those of the faint of heart, a warning. Part of this mystery does involve a case where the sexual relations of the couple are well-described. Nothing graphic is mentioned, but the topic could still be off-putting to some.
Do you think you will read this novel? Have you had the opportunity to read the first book in the series or another by Rayboun? If so, please share you thoughts?
I based this review on an advanced reader’s edition provided by the publisher. The novel releases tomorrow, January 10, 2017.