imageI had not read the first of the Veronica Speedwell mysteries but there is enough background in this second mystery that it breaks my rule that one should always start with the first book in a series!  As you know I am a fan of English mysteries and truly enjoy those set mid-to-late 19th Century. I am, as I am sure many of you are, enraptured with the Masterpiece production of Victoria (I can’t believe there is only one episode left in this season!!!) and reading this book at the same time was perfect.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book…I felt it was more a character study of Veronica and her partner, Revelstoke Templeton-Vane (Stoker), in solving the puzzle of the crimes more than the crimes themselves.  By the way, this isn’t a romance novel, although you might like it to become one, if you get my meaning, our protagonists are very well suited, but alas, they are just “friends”.  Veronica is a true feminist, a very educated woman, very unusual at that time (I think we think of Victoria’s reign as restricting to women, I think we found this not to be true many women were in the forefront of creativity, science, invention, etc. and I love reading about their achievements even if, in this case, it is fiction, I believe it to be based on fact), and doesn’t mind getting “down and dirty”.  She has traveled the world in search of her passion and livelihood, collecting butterflies.  As a lepidopterist, she has been in many exotic locales and met many obstacles (these are just briefly referenced). She and Stoker are working on restoring, cataloging and adding to the collections of their friend and benefactor, Lord Rosemorran when Veronica is asked to save a man convicted of murder and is sentenced to the gallows in a week.  Who asks her and why is a spoiler so I will let you read that for yourself. The story takes them to an artists concave in a magnificent town home where we meet many creative independent thinking bohemian types.  It takes them to an opium den, a grotto in a manor house and various other locations each adding a tasty bit to the plot. And, of course, it takes them to Scotland Yard to work with Sir Hugo Montgomerie, Head of the Yard’s Special Branch with whom they had worked on their last mystery.  I thought I had figured out “who did it” just a bit before Veronica’s reveal (I was correct).

I haven’t read any of Deanna Raybourn’s,, Lady Julia Grey’s novels but shall put them, as well as the first Veronica Speedwell mystery, A Curious Beginning in my to be read queue!   My Independent Bookseller of choice.


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