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A Treacherous Curse

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Treacherous Curse (2018) Deanna Raybourn

Set in London in 1888.

The third Veronica Speedwell mystery finds Veronica and Stoker investigating the disappearance of an archeologist and a valuable Egyptian diadem.

They get involved because the missing man is the husband of Stoker’s ex-wife–a woman who left him for dead and then completely destroyed his reputation, making him a pariah in polite society.

Caroline Templeton-Vane had left him in Brazil and returned to England to petition for divorce on the grounds of cruelty was public record.

Although there is no boinking in this book, Veronica is quite open about her interest in sex and attractive men.

Stoker is… not interested in such discussions.

Stoker blushed furiously. “For the love of God, put that thing away.”

“I cannot imagine why you are so bashful on the subject of the male genitalia of Homo sapiens when you are the only one of us who can boast of owning it.”

As much as I don’t love boinking books, I do love that Veronica is so open and frank about sex and her interest in it, while Stoker is the one trapped by mores and traditions. (Traditions that said it was perfectly fine for him to sow his wild oats, mind you.)

Stoker did not judge my predilections any more than I judged him for living as chastely as any medieval monk. A brief and hellish marriage followed by a period of Bacchanalian overindulgence had soured him on romance.

There are many things I like about this books. Take the pointed looks at VIctorian medicine.

“That works,” he said in some astonishment.

Stoker sighed. “I am a surgeon,” he reminded Sir Hugo.

“Yes, I just didn’t know you were a good one.”

And I like Stoker’s opposition to the display of mummies.

“She was a person, for God’s sake! She deserves to be left in peace, not displayed like a fairground attraction for people with half a shilling to gawp at.”

“She was human once,” he said finally. “She walked and breathed and loved people and she had a name. Ankheset. It will be inscribed on the heart scarab that someone laid upon her to protect her in the afterlife. That ought to be respected instead of letting the rabble in to paw at her. She deserves to rest in peace.”

It’s an interesting take, one you’d have expected the female character to have, and it’s a reminder of the humanity of all of us (something often lacking).

I also liked how complicated Lady Tiverton was.

“I learnt long ago that when one is only half British, the other half will be blamed for every evil of temper or habit. I schooled myself in deportment so that the part of me that is Egyptian may never be held up as a pattern for degradation or vice. I became more British than any Englishwoman I knew, and still every syllable I speak, every gesture, every thought is examined by Society.

Especially her relationship with her step-daughter. (I was very impressed with the resolution of the girl’s situation. It was not what one would normally expect.)

But despite all there, there is something about this book and series that keeps me from absolutely loving it. It’s fine. The characters are fun. The mystery is interesting. But it never quite crosses the line for me into something I love. I was perfectly content to wait for this book to become available to borrow from the library.

That doesn’t meant I didn’e enjoy it, I just didn’t find it compelling in the way I do some books and series.

But I’ll close on this lovely quote.

(L)ife is not about achievement. It is about the effort. If one takes pleasure in every step, one enjoys the whole journey.”

It’s worth reading, but for me it wasn’t worth the just-published-and-also-out-in-hardback price.

Publisher: Berkley
Rating: 7.5/10

Categories: British, Female, Historical, Mystery, Romance     Comments (0)    



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