Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Review: A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

A Treacherous Curse
Author:  Deanna Raybourn
Series:  A Veronica Speedwell Mystery 3
Publisher:  Berkley, January 16, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 Pages
List Price:  US$26.00 (print);  US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780451476173 (print);  9780698198401 (eBook)

Members of an Egyptian expedition fall victim to an ancient mummy’s curse in this thrilling Veronica Speedwell novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries.

London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything…

Qwill's Thoughts

A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn is the 3rd Veronica Speedwell Mystery after A Curious Beginning and A Perilous Undertaking. Let me say at the outset that this is a fabulous series.

In A Curious Beginning you first meet Veronica Speedwell after the death of her remaining Aunt. Raybourn quickly introduces the reader to Veronica’s character in a fun scene in the vicarage after the funeral. Let’s say that the Vicar and his wife are very put out. Veronica is an intrepid adventurer and lepidopterist who specializes in butterflies. She is not as fond of moths. She has traveled to many places in the world collecting specimens and selling them to finance her trips. She was raised by two Aunts and has no idea of her parentage. A Curious Beginning focuses on events that end up revealing the mystery of Veronica’s birth. Because of the danger she is facing she ends up in the care of Stoker (Revelstoke Templeton-Vane). Stoker is the black sheep of his family, also a natural scientist as well as a surgeon and has a dark past. Watching Veronica and Stoker interact and come to trust each other is incredible fun. Veronica is not a woman who will be told what to do which Stoker finds both intriguing and sometimes exasperating. In A Curious Beginning Veronica and Stoker thwart the plans of those who would either kill or kidnap Veronica.

In A Perilous Undertaking Veronica and Stoker are approached by a member of the Royal family and charged with proving the innocence of Miles Ramsforth who has been found guilty of killing his mistress and is scheduled for execution. This was another superb mystery that tested the mettle of Veronica and Stoker. In A Perilous Undertaking the reader starts to learn more of Stoker’s background and meet some of his family. Raybourn continues not only to develop that characters of Veronica and Stoker but shows the deepening of their friendship. Veronica has made it clear that she does not have dalliances in England and only engages in certain thoroughly natural activities abroad. Stoker is too wounded by what has happened to him to be able to fall for someone again. There is a terrific tension between the characters and the reader is torn between wanting them to have the most remarkable friendship and wanting the relationship to progress beyond that. They are great friends. And this is something they both need. The mystery is once again well-plotted and surprising.

In A Treacherous Curse, Veronica and Stoker are faced with a yet another mystery this time centering on a mummy’s curse. There are an incredible number of moving parts to this mystery and Veronica and Stoker are faced with unraveling the curse plaguing the Tiverton Expedition to Egypt. Anubis had appeared at the camp in Egypt and a death had occurred. The leader of the expedition Sir Leicester Tiverton and his family had returned to England. After Anubis and the death no one local would work in and around the tomb of the Princess Ankheset. Additionally the expedition photographer, Jon de Morgan, had disappeared along with his wife. At the time de Morgan disappeared an artifact from the dig – a fabulous diadem belonging to Ankheset - had also vanished. The disappearance of de Morgan is particularly problematic for Stoker. I will leave you to read the novel to find out why. A Treacherous Curse completes the picture of Stoker’s past and the events following the failed Templeton-Vane Expedition to Amazonia.

Veronica and Stoker have a lot to figure out in A Treacherous Curse while keeping Stoker from being the subject of malicious lies and rumor. Once more they plunge head first into the solving the mysteries. This is the most intricate of the Veronica Speedwell mysteries. Raybourn does a fabulous job with all of the moving parts while deepening the history of Stoker, which is heartbreaking. Veronica’s and Stoker’s friendship is further strengthened by the revelations in the novel as Veronica proves once again that she is on Stoker’s side. She does her very best to make sure that Stoker emotionally survives the revelations about his past.

Raybourn has set these novels in the Victorian era and the setting is extremely well done. The reader really gets the sense of the era and how different Veronica really is. Yet she is not the only woman of intelligence and adventurous spirit of her time. There is even a private club for these intrepid woman that Raybourn has named the Hippolyta Club. This is a wonderful touch and also serves as the setting for some events in the novels.

Raybourn has peopled these mysteries with a wonderfully rich supporting cast – Lord Rosemorran, Veronica's and Stoker's benefactor whose collection they are cataloguing, Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk, Inspector Mornaday of Scotland Yard, and his boss Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch. In addition to these recurring characters each novel features fascinating and well-developed characters who are involved in the mysteries that Veronica and Stoker must solve.

The Veronica Speedwell Mysteries are fun, well-plotted and thoroughly engaging. I LOVE Veronica and Stoker, the gorgeously wrought Victorian setting and the sophisticated mysteries. This is a fabulous, intriguing and entertaining series that I highly recommend.


A Curious Beginning
A Veronica Speedwell Mystery 1
Berkley, July 12, 2016
Trade Paperback, 368 Pages
Hardcover and eBook, September 1, 2015

In her thrilling new series, Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell. 

London, 1887. After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

A Perilous Undertaking
A Veronica Speedwell Mystery 2
Berkley, September 19, 2017
Trade Paperback, 368 Pages
Hardcover, January 10, 2017

Now in paperback, the “wickedly clever and devilishly amusing” (SusanElia MacNeal) Veronica Speedwell returns for a rousing adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey Mysteries.

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….

1 comment:

  1. Nice review! I'm interested in these now, they are going in my TBR list!