Series: Veronica Speedwell #2
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....
The biggest problem that I have with this series is that I didn’t discover it sooner. Veronica Speedwell and her friend and companion Stoker are back, and I’m so happy to see them. This time, Veronica has been asked to investigate another murder – a young, talented artist who went by the name Artemesia has been murdered, and her lover, a married man named Miles Ramsforth has been arrested and sentenced to hang for the crime. It seems pretty straightforward – Miles was found covered in Artemesia’s blood, holding her still-warm corpse. However, Miles has one very powerful friend who can’t believe he would do this, and it’s that friend who entreats Veronica to look into the matter.
Since this is a mystery, I don’t want to give away too much. Just like the first book, A Curious Beginning, the best part of the book is banter and the developing relationship between Veronica and Stoker. We learn a little more about each of them in this book, and get a more in-depth look at their pasts and their childhoods. I love watching the two of them together. I love watching couples who are genuinely friends with each other slowly falling in love. I don’t even care how many books it takes these two to get together. Watching them get so close, then stumble and fall, only to pick themselves back up and get so close again is riveting. The feelings between the two are developing slowly, but they are developing.
The mystery of who killed Artemesia was fairly straightforward. I guessed who it was immediately, but I certainly had the motive and the method wrong. The actual method of murder was quite clever, and I was quite happy when it was revealed. It’s not often that an author manages to come up with a whole new way to murder someone, but Deanna Raybourn managed to do it.
I love this series. Veronica Speedwell is one of a few historical heroines I adore, and I can’t recommend this one enough. The investigation into this murder takes Veronica and Stoker into an opium den, a sex grotto, and a mortuary, and each new setting is just delightful. There’s one scene in particular involving a sort of sex chair that had me actually guffawing like a nut while sitting in traffic.
Angele Masters’ narration is wonderful. It’s always clear exactly who is speaking, and she’s able to seamlessly switch between male and female voices without resorting to falsetto or fake-sounding deep voices. If you haven’t started this series yet, you really should. There are only 3 books in it so far, so it won’t take you long to catch up.