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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Review - A Murderous Relation

I reviewed the first book, A Curious Beginning (click here), the third in the series A Treacherous Curse (click here),  and the fourth in the series A Dangerous Collaboration (click here).  I am just now getting around to reviewing the newest release in this exciting series.  

Deanna Raybourn

Copyright: March 2020 (Berkley) 320 pgs

Series: 5th in Veronica Speedwell Mysteries

Sensuality: Period adult conversations

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical amateur sleuth

Main Characters: Veronica Speedwell

Setting: 1888, London England

Obtained Through: Library Find

Book blurb: "Autumn 1888. Veronica Speedwell and her colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to stop a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, and the proprietress, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve it from the club before scandal can break. 

Worse yet, London is being terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper—and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.  

Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore╩╝s high-class brothel, where a body soon turns up. Secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family—and it is up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it is too late for all of them."

Veronica is larger-than-life, incredibly ahead of her time, stubborn, and highly intelligent with a sharp tongue and wit. In other words - incorrigible and great fun.  Stoker (Mr. Ravelstoke Templeton-Vane) is her sleuthing partner.  He is cranky and reclusive, and believes Veronica is the woman for him, even if she doesn't believe in romantic love or marriage.  Tiberius, Stoker's estranged brother, only has a small part in this outing - but it is enjoyable.  Lady Wellie has more page time in this book and she is hard to like but you begin to understand the weight on her shoulders.  Journalist J.J. Butterworth has a significant role in the story and is a welcome addition. Prince Albert Victor, who has been the subject of a few Ripper theories since around the 1970's, is portrayed well for such a controversial historical figure. Mr. Pennybaker, one of Stoker's taxidermy clients, is a breakout character.

The setting of Victorian London is always so real you can smell the coal smoke in the air.  Madame Aurore's scandalous brothel is atmospheric and titillating without being crass.  The fear over the Ripper murders becomes palpable, and for a brief moment Veronica believes she may have passed the evil incarnate on a foggy street in her adventure.  Very well done.

The plot is revealed as the adventure progresses and brings back a villain from an earlier book to reprise his plot against the throne.  The story veers and swerves as events develop and Veronica with Stoker by her side keep up the chase.  The pacing is well maintained throughout. 

The climax provided delicious tense moments like I adore.  This series sets a high bar for exciting climaxes and this book held up the tradition.  The wrap-up answered many questions and tied up remaining threads.  You will have to read it to find out about Veronica and Stocker's personal relationship - my lips are sealed.

Overall, this is yet another great Veronica Speedwell adventure placing the character in the stratosphere of unique and bar-setting heroines.  I particularly enjoy the characters, although the plots continue to be full of twists and turns.  It's the characters that endure long after the reading.  This isn't a Ripper story, the infamous serial killer is background only which is very effective.  With that said, she gives homage to the victims giving their lives context.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author and series on your watch list.

Here is a wonderful interview with the author about this book at The Poisoned Pen bookstore.  Remember those?

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Mystica said...

I like the writing style, the setting of Victorian England invariably and the general mystery. Thanks for the review.

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