Book Title: A Perilous Undertaking
Author: Deanna Raybourn
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: Veronica Speedwell #2
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pub Date: 01/10/17
London, 1887. At the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task–saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Ramsforth, accused of the brutal murder of his mistress, Artemisia, will face the hangman’s noose in a week’s time if the real killer is not found.
But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural-historian colleague, Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer. 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….
I’m kicking myself for not giving this series a chance sooner. No really, I’m not a huge reader of historical fiction, but the fact that Deanna Raybourn has effortlessly blended aspects of the Victorian era with humor that transcends any decade has me completely hooked. She has flawlessly created the most excellent of flawed characters and I cannot get enough of Stoker and Veronica. If you haven’t read the first book in the series, A Curious Beginning yet, I would highly recommend beginning there. Throughout this novel there are major spoilers from the first book that would not only make it impossible to go back and read the first as intended, but also cause you to be rather confused during this story.
We pick up not long after the end of book one in this installment-Stoker and Veronica have chartered an exploration that gets temporarily benched, as their benefactor has become injured in the most hilarious of ways. Never fear though, our dynamic duo is once again pulled in as amateur investigators in the implication of the wrong man for a murder amongst the members of high class society. They are called to find the correct murderer but have limitations on how they can do their job, both from the person who has hired them and the police. What follows is a rip-roaring riot of fun, action, chase scenes, and of course Veronica and Stoker’s witty banter and budding romance. These books are perfect for the reader who enjoys a lighter mystery and likes substantial comic relief with a touch of romance and emotion to boot.
I don’t like to write long reviews of sequels, and dislike even more touching on the plot specifics, but I just have to add how much I enjoyed the little snippet of background we receive on Stoker and his childhood. Raybourn knows just how to write each scene in perfect balance of snappy humor and genuine “touchy feelies”. I know historical fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoy novels that have a little bit of everything, without the language feeling too lofty or antiquated, I implore you to give this series a try. You may find yourself as surprised as I was to have added a new favorite lighter crime series to your TBR. Highly recommended and dreading that I’ll finally be caught up with the next book; I’m not excited about having to wait almost a year for the fourth installment! 😉
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy.