Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #5
Published by Berkley on March 10, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
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Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to help with a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, known as the Club de l'Etoile, and the proprietess, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel from the club before scandal can break.
Worse yet, London is gripped by hysteria in the autumn of 1888, terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper--and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.
Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore's high class brothel, where another body soon turns up. Many secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family--and it's up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it's too late for all of them.
After the last harrowing adventure and moment of truth in their relationship, Veronica and Stoker are back at the earl’s residence cataloguing his family collection for the museum, squabbling as usual, and feeling the littlest bit unsure of how to move things to the next level in the relationship. But, a secret royal summons, a naïve prince, and a dastardly killer in the East End known as the Ripper land them in their next deadly adventure and a case that gets personally swiftly enough for Veronica.
A Murderous Relation is the fifth book in the Veronica Speedwell series. It is a series which must be read in order to follow the overall series arc for Veronica’s character development and the development of the relationships around her.
In the last book, I was close to shaking Veronica until her teeth rattled because of the depth of her denial and fear about her feelings and relationship with Stoker. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated her getting past a lot of that and slowly starting to accept and do something with her feelings. Of course, she wouldn’t be Veronica if she didn’t make a big deal out of each step in the relationship. Alongside her newly understood feelings for Stoker is the return of her ambivalent feelings toward her natural father, the Prince of Wales, and his family. In A Murderous Relation, it was particularly poignant to see her get to spend time with the eldest of her younger half-brothers as part of the harrowing danger their latest case involved.
As usual, this is all narrated from Veronica’s perspective, but she’s a keenly interested and detail-oriented observer so the reader knows the other characters very well when all is said and done. Stoker absolutely shines as Veronica’s rock and most loyal friend. She is not an easy person and she is exceptionally skilled and intelligent, but Stoker isn’t intimidated and doesn’t back down from her bossiness nor does he back away his support and strength especially when she faces her personal demons. He is exactly what she needs and it was great seeing this continue to settle in her mind and heart right after some deadly action scenes.
The mystery was a good one, though the suspense was more how they would thwart the villains, since they learned quickly enough who that was and what their motives were. It was exciting and riveting which is what I love about this series. Veronica and Stoker got to show their prowess time and again.
The historical backdrop was organic to the story. I have always been fascinated by Jack the Ripper and even the British Royal family so with the strong dose of both in the story it was bound to capture my attention. But, added to this was also the life of the London poor, class struggles, and Irish Home Rule as strong subject matter.
So, all in all, it was another fabulous installment in the series and I was glad to learn there were more on the way. Those who want both depth of character plotting, strong romance, and an action-packed suspense side should definitely pick up the Veronica Speedwell series.
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- A Pretty Deceit by Anna Lee Huber @AnnaLeeHuber @KensingtonBooks - September 16, 2020