Title: A Perilous Undertaking Author: Deanna Raybourn Published: January 10th 2017 by Berkley Books Format: Hardcover, 352 pages Genre: Historical Mystery Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book. Series: Veronica Speedwell #2
When reading this book, you almost forget that it is about a murder. Deanna Raybourn is so adept at dialogue that you find yourself more attuned to the bantering between Stoker and Veronica than worrying about the dead body in the bedroom.
Backing up to the first book in the series, ‘A Curious Beginning’, the reader is introduced to Revelstoke Templeton-Vane and Veronica Speedwell, a natural historian and a lepidopterist brought together after a failed kidnapping and a secret that could affect the royal family.
In this second installment, Veronica is invited to the Curiosity Club, “founded for the purposes of free discourse amongst accomplished ladies without the strictures of society limiting their conversation”, where she is introduced to Lady Sundridge. It did not take long for Veronica to suss out the true identity of her host, yet she was curious as to why a member of the royal family was getting involved in the Ramsforth case.
Myles Ramsforth stood accused of murdering his mistress, a talented artist named Artemisia, who was carrying his child. Since Ramsforth had discovered her body and was covered in her blood, the case was open and shut. Yet Ramsforth had an alibi; unfortunately, he would rather go to his hanging than speak the truth and ruin more lives.
Sir Hugo Montgomerie of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch, a department within the Metropolitan Police that handles matters involving the royal family, is front and center with Stoker and Veronica. His main job is to protect the family, but he does seem to spend most of his time protecting Veronica from herself and to run interference when it comes to the rather loud and mind boggling antics of Veronica and Stoker.
The humor is what makes these books. The banter between the characters is exceptional -- and the bawdy humor is laugh aloud funny. Veronica is very matter of fact when it comes to her personal life and that keeps the proper Stoker a bit wobbly on his feet. When it comes to the grotto, a place of organized debauchery, you wish that you could be there to see the looks on their faces.
Veronica comments that Stoker, more than anyone, walks with ghosts and it is this comment that helps to prepare the reader for a surprising fact from Stoker’s past.
For me, who the murderer was slightly obvious in the beginning, but Ms. Raybourn goes to such lengths to show all the characters that you want to discount what you have read in hopes that you jumped to the wrong conclusion. As I said, the murder is secondary to the relationships.