Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A Perilous Undertaking

Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Type: e-book
Series: #2 in the Veronica Speedwell series
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
First Published: January 10, 2017
First Lines: London, September 1887 - "For the love of all that is holy, Veronica, the object is to maim or kill, not tickle", Stoker informed me, clipping the words sharply as he handed me the knife.  "Do it again."

Book Description from GoodReadsVeronica Speedwell returns in a brand new adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries... 

London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman's noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer. 

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime. 

From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....

My Rating: 4.5 stars

My ReviewIf you're told the book you're about to read is a Victorian murder mystery featuring a lepidopterist (butterfly collector) and her best friend, a taxidermist, it may cause you to question if the book is right for you. But with Deanna Raybourn at the helm, you can put away your doubts because you know you're in for a good ride.  Her writing is some of the best that I've read and the breadth of her vocabulary is wonderfully challenging (thank goodness for my Kindle's dictionary feature) and adds so much to the personalities of her characters and the era in which they live.

I have read a couple of Deanna Raybourn's previous books in her Lady Julia Grey series and quite enjoyed them.  I associate Raybourn with memorable, witty and well-rounded characters and her compelling writing. The first book in her Lady Julia Grey series, Silent in the Grave, features one of my all-time favourite opening lines ... 

“To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. 
Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”

A Perilous Undertaking, the second book featuring Veronica Speedwell, was the first book I've read in this newer series.  For new-to-Veronica readers, you needn't worry about falling behind in character relationships or the plot if you haven't, like me, read the first book in the series, A Curious Beginning. Raybourn gives enough details without divulging the plot lines from the first book yet doesn't leave her readers with that niggling feeling that they're missing something by not starting with the first book.

While the mystery itself had some good twists and kept me guessing, this book is much more of a character focused read.  Even secondary characters, namely spunky old Lady Wellington, add much to the plot and humour.  But it's the bond between Veronica and Stoker that really drew me into this book.  They have a deep connection to each other that is based in respect and love but is sprinkled liberally with witty banter and some delightful romantic tension. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  With it's stunning cover, humorous exchanges, solid historical mystery and colourful main characters this book has it all.


Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy in exchange for my honest review.

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