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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Review - A Dangerous Collaboration

I reviewed the first book, A Curious Beginning (click here) and the third in the series A Treacherous Curse (click here).  I missed the second in the series, but I jumped on the chance to review the fourth in this exciting historical mystery series.  If you like Daphne du Maurier's classic Rebecca, you definitely want to check out this review.

Author: Deanna Raybourn

Copyright: Jan 2017 (Berkley) 298 pgs

Series: 4th in Veronica Speedwell Mystery series

Sensuality: Innuendo and frank mature discussion within period language.  Nothing crude, no graphic violence

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Veronica Speedwell is an amateur entomologist 

Setting: 1888 Cornwall Island, England

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review, #Netgalley

From the cover:  "Lured by the promise of a rare and elusive butterfly, the intrepid Veronica Speedwell is persuaded by Lord Templeton-Vane, the brother of her colleague Stoker, to pose as his fiancée at a house party on a Cornish isle owned by his oldest friend, Malcolm Romilly.

But Veronica soon learns that one question hangs over the party: What happened to Rosamund? Three years ago, Malcolm Romilly’s bride vanished on their wedding day, and no trace of her has ever been found. Now those who were closest to her have gathered, each a possible suspect in her disappearance. 

From the poison garden kept by Malcolm’s sister to the high towers of the family castle, the island’s atmosphere is full of shadows, and danger lurks around every corner. 

Determined to discover Rosamund’s fate, Veronica and Stoker match wits with a murderer who has already struck once and will not hesitate to kill again.…"

Veronica is larger-than-life, incredibly ahead of her time, stubborn, and highly intelligent with a sharp tongue and wit.  Stoker (Mr. Ravelstoke Templeton-Vane) is her sleuthing partner.  He is cranky and reclusive, and growing more frustrated with Veronica's avoidance of any romantic relationship with him.  Tiberius, Stoker's estranged brother and ardent suitor of Veronica, has to face his feelings for the missing bride and his less than honorable actions in the past.  Malcom, the lord of the castle, is a mysterious host at best.  Mertensia, Malcom's sister, is the eerie relative who prefers gardening and her poisonous plants more than people. Helen is the widow of Malcom's brother Lucian who also is known as Madame Helena who does séances.  The missing bride is ever present and the more you learn about her, the more the suspects pile up.

A foreboding ancestral castle with multiple hidden passageways, rainy and dreary weather, the ominous "Three Sisters" rocky protrusions just off the coast, and a séance make this a Gothic masterpiece.  I loved the great use of the setting as a character in itself.

The plot develops and twists as the family and staff are all developed and the sexual tension between Veronica and Stoker increases.  Pacing was expertly managed and made this a page turner.  The climax was thrilling and hair raising with great character touches included.  Kudos!! The wrap-up was very satisfying.

I couldn't help but consider this as a fantastic tribute to or take on the Daphne du Maurier's classic Rebecca. If you have read previous books in this series, the dance between Veronica and Stoker moves toward resolution and I was happy with how that worked.

Rating: Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend.

Here is a wonderful short video from the author where she discusses her inspiration for Veronica Speedwell.

And now for a short video on Margaret Fountaine, the Lepidopterist who is the inspiration for Veronica Speedwell.

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