A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
Type: Adult Mystery
Series: Veronica Speedwell #2
Other Titles in the Series: A Curious Beginning (VS #1)
Summary: 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....
This is a marvelous edition to a great series. In this book, Veronica and Stoker find themselves trapped in London instead of on an expedition. As is seemingly their new normal they find themselves involved in a mystery. This time they've been hired to clear an innocent man's name before he hangs for a crime some don't believe he committed.
Now that we know Veronica and Stoker, we are past initial first impressions and are learning more about them as they are learning about each other. Their friendship is getting stronger by the day, secrets are coming slowly out of the shadows, but they still bicker like the proverbial old married couple. We learn a little more about Stoker's past, we meet his family and see why he's the odd Templeton-Vane out, and get a glimpse as to what happened in Brazil. As for Veronica, we finally get a glimpse into how she hunts for butterflies, which I found fascinating. I hope that they get to go on an expedition soon so we can see more of their careers and passions on display. Throughout all, though Veronica remains a strong willed, steadfast, independent woman and still she is what draws me to this series.
Set in the heart of London from royal residences, art houses, and opium dens we meet a variety of new, unique characters. Lord Rosemorran and Lady Cordelia's great-aunt Wellingtonia, who is as eccentric as they come, as well as her hard of hearing friend, Cecil, a member of the Royal family, and a handful of artists who live where the victim resided. Lady Wellie was my favorite because like Veronica she speaks her mind. We also see old favorites such as those men from the Scotland Yard that keep popping up Sir Hugo and Mornaday.
The mystery was a fine one, with twists and turns, blackmail and threats. I, personally, wasn't quite sure who the murderer was. I liked how even when there is the one straight forward who-done-it mystery, Raybourn weaves in smaller ones as well. Everyone is connected, but what key factor that binds them is within itself a mystery. I cannot recommend this series enough.