Friday, November 17, 2017

The Second Veronica Speedwell Mystery - A Perilous Undertaking

It's always a treat when you read the second book of a series and find it to be just as enjoyable, if not even more so, than the first!  I have been fortunate in a lot of series I've picked up in recent years, that the authors have been able to meet and exceed my expectations with more than just the first book (it's just a shame that the publishers for some of those series didn't want to do more than three books in the series, which seems to be the magic number these days...)

And Deanna Raybourn certainly did not disappoint with A Perilous Undertaking, the second Veronica Speedwell mystery.  Veronica and her not-quite-the-gentleman friend, Stoker, find their success in solving the previous murder mystery has made them people of interest - particularly to a mysterious Lady Sundridge, who asks them to vindicate a man condemned to hang for the murder of his mistress - but Lady Sundridge firmly believes he is innocent.  And Veronica and Stoker wouldn't let an innocent man to go the gallows, would they?

Raybourn builds on the budding relationship between Veronica and Stoker as they get sucked into yet another game of cat and mouse, where lies abound on every side, and no one is completely honest with them.  The sarcasm, quick wit, and playful barbs that bounce back and forth between the two protagonists make the characters more alive than simply stilted dialogue, and that underlying sexual tension building between the two keeps my rooting for them to eventually get together.  And their good cop/bad cop routine (who is good and who is bad depends wholly on the situation) manages to elicit any number of clues to lead them on the path to the real killer.

The story once again brings Veronica's royal connection into play, and readers also learn a bit more about Stoker and his past and family.  We also discover to just what lengths Veronica and Stoker will go to help each other, as well as protect each other.  And do so they must, as someone (in true Nancy Drew fashion) is leaving warning notes, threatening them off the case - and after a rather senses-enlightening interview with a suspect, they very nearly end up in jail!

But persistence pays off, and through a rather intricate web of entanglements, Raybourn leads her sleuths to the ultimate showdown in the most unlikely of places for those living in 19th century Victorian times!  The characters are fun and engaging, the mystery is so well-plotted - it definitely kept me guessing, and the continued subplots leave the reader with some answers, but even more questions about both Veronica and Stoker. 

I readily love the fact that this is a period piece, as it allows the author to lead her protagonists through old fashioned means of solving a murder - no cell phones, no computers, no easy access to all information.  And the fact that she has made Veronica so forthright and blunt makes it all the more fun, reading about the reactions of those Victorian hypocrites who are appalled at her speech.  Any book that can make me smile as I read it like there Veronica Speedwell books do are definitely high on my reading list!

RATING:  10 bloodstained dancing slippers out of 10 for showing the world that even in Victorian England, a female sleuth can still gain the upper hand on her male counterparts!

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