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A Perilous Undertaking

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Perilous Undertaking (2017) Deanna Raybourn

Set in London in 1887.

The second Veronica Speedwell mystery finds Veronica and Stoker preparing for an expedition–until their benefactor breaks his leg tripping over his giant tortoise. This leaves both cranky with each other until a new mystery is dropped in their laps.

Veronica is summoned to the Curiosity Club, and there is asked to save Miles Ramsforth from being executed for the murder of a young artist named Artemisia, who was also his mistress.

First off, I ran into a paragraph that sent me right out of the story.

I knew he was thinking of the time his wife nearly cost him his life in Brazil. Caroline. The name pierced me like a lance, but I refused to speak it aloud.

I did not remember reading anything about Stoker talking about his wife Caroline up until that point. I know I read quickly and sometimes scan, but I was pretty sure I’d have paid attention to that, so I actually went and searched both books for “Caroline” “wife” and “Brazil” (yay for ebooks!) and found nothing of Stoker telling Veronica anything about his previous wife.

Was this something that had been edited out of either of the books and references to it were left in? I have no idea, it it still bugs me.

Aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. We meet a new character, Lady Wellie, who was delightful.

“In my day, chairs were not for comfort. They were to keep your bottom from touching the floor and that is all. And be glad Cordelia is not here. She is a lovely girl, but she would swoon straightaway if she heard me use the word ‘bottom’ in polite company. It is the greatest advantage of getting old, you know. I can say precisely what I like and everyone excuses it because I knew Moses from his bulrush days.”

There is still the tension between Veronica and Stoker–cranked up all the more because there is a grotto involved in the mystery. One of those built around the time of the Hellfire clubs.

“There is no sociology here,” Stoker corrected, his voice still tight. “These are not phalluses— at least not the sort meant for study.”

I blinked at him. “Whatever do you mean?”

He was blushing furiously. “They are . . . Oh God, I can’t even say the word.”

“What word?”

“Dil— No, I can’t. I can tell you in Greek. These are olisboi. Or if you prefer, in Spanish, consoladores.”

That amused me–not that there would be a room full of phalluses, but that he couldn’t say the word dildo but instead had to switch to Greek.

We also got an interesting view of the judicial system.

“Do you think he is guilty?”

She blinked. “Well, he must be, miss. He’s been found guilty by a proper jury. Those gentlemen would know, wouldn’t they?”

I almost admired her touching faith in the judicial system. “You would think so,” I managed.

It was an interesting mystery, and I enjoyed it but I am still annoyed by the bit where we’re supposed to know more about Stoker’s ex-wife than we do.
Rating: 7.5/10 (dinged for the bit about the wife)

Published by Berkley

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



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