Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden @karen_odden @crookedlanebks @sophiarose1816

Posted October 12, 2022 by Sophia in Book Review / 21 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden @karen_odden @crookedlanebks @sophiarose1816 Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden
Series: Inspector Corravan #2
Published by Crooked Lane Books on October 11, 2022
Genres: Historical Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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September 1878. One night, as the pleasure boat the Princess Alice makes her daily trip up the Thames, she collides with the Bywell Castle, a huge iron-hulled collier. The Princess Alice shears apart, throwing all 600 passengers into the river; only 130 survive. It is the worst maritime disaster London has ever seen, and early clues point to sabotage by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who believe violence is the path to restoring Irish Home Rule.

For Scotland Yard Inspector Michael Corravan, born in Ireland and adopted by the Irish Doyle family, the case presents a challenge. Accused by the Home Office of willfully disregarding the obvious conclusion, and berated by his Irish friends for bowing to prejudice, Corravan doggedly pursues the truth, knowing that if the Princess Alice disaster is pinned on the IRB, hopes for Home Rule could be dashed forever.

Corrovan’s dilemma is compounded by Colin, the youngest Doyle, who has joined James McCabe’s Irish gang. As violence in Whitechapel rises, Corravan strikes a deal with McCabe to get Colin out of harm’s way. But unbeknownst to Corravan, Colin bears longstanding resentments against his adopted brother and scorns his help.

After already having read this author before, I was excited when I came across this latest historical mystery set in Victorian Era London with a lower class Irish police detective up against his shadowed past and investigating a horrific disaster on the Thames.  Blending real history and clever fiction and mystery, Karen Odden has released another winner.

Under a Veiled Moon is second of the Inspector Corravan series of historical mysteries that worked fine out of order, but I loved it so much that I will definitely be going back to the beginning.

After a scandal of corrupt police are exposed, Inspector Michael Corravan is temporarily promoted to head the police station on the river.  Many don’t think a barely polished, working class Irishman should be in this position.  He’s looking into the body of an unknown man found on the embankment when he is interrupted by the news that a full pleasure boat, Princess Alice and an iron hauler have rammed and the Princess Alice has gone down with five hundred victims and a few survivors.  It doesn’t take long for the papers to whip up a frenzy of anti-Irish sentiment, especially after the train derailment just before, which may or may not have been an accident and recent horrific bombing claimed to be done by Irish extremists.

If that weren’t enough, an Irish gang leader makes Corravan aware that someone is picking off his men and smashing up businesses in White Chapel and his past comes calling when he realizes the last living son in his adopted family is getting into trouble with the Irish criminal element.  Corravan has the case and must get to the truth before another disaster and London’s East End erupts into worse violence.

Under a Veiled Moon balances an authentic and interesting colorful, historical backdrop with a clever mystery and an engaging detective figure.  All the elements in the story organically mesh and it is a wonderfully layered whole.  It had so much going for it; I simply want to gush.

I loved Michael Corravan of a main character and getting to know him and the world of this series.  I like that he came from nothing and both earned his way and met good people along the way that helped.  He gets knocked about and gets little respect outside a few colleagues and friends.  He’s got a love interest and that too was something out of the ordinary as he has a genteel lady author from English London society who loves him as he is and her cleverness helps him with the case, even as she is a support when he feels very low.

Yes, the horrific boating disaster was thrilling as was the London gangs and the anti-Irish suspense happening, but it was the way the author made it all Corravan’s story and how it all fit together with him at the center engaging emotions and tension so I was riveted. Okay and the mystery set against it all turned out to be enthralling and had to be tracked all the way to get to the solution.

All in all, I can’t praise it enough and have a definite book date for the first in series and will impatiently await the next book.  Historical mystery fans who like the grittier, shadowy London backdrop, historical events and social issues present alongside complex characters and plot need to add this to the stack.


About Karen Odden

Karen Odden’s interest in the Victorian era goes back to her New York University PhD dissertation. In it, she examined how descriptions of injuries from nineteenth-century railway disasters in popular novels, medical literature, and legal documents helped to create a discourse out of which Freud and other psychologists drew their ideas of “trauma.”

By its very nature, a traumatic injury, with its long, belated trail of symptoms, calls us to look backward, to examine the past. Karen loves writing mysteries partly because the narrative always drives backwards as well as forward. That is, if there is a dead body on page 5, the rest of the book is the story of figuring out how it got there in the first place. In Karen’s books, childhood events shape the characters’ beliefs and assumptions, which they bring to later experiences, often at their peril. Karen loves family secrets and marginal voices, the smelly Thames and the costermongers of 1870s London, medical puzzles and odd facts about poison, anything Scotland Yard, the true weird stories that surround musicians and artists, and good old-fashioned romantic suspense.

Some of her favorite books as a child were the Anne of Green Gables series, Julie of the Wolves, all of the Louisa May Alcott books, Caddie Woodlawn, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Karen grew up with the works of Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt, which she found in her grandmother’s library among the bodice-rippers and historical fiction, and with their amateur sleuths and character-driven plots, they still influence her writing.

Karen served as an Associate Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and taught classes in English literature at New York University and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She has contributed essays to books and journals, including Studies in the Novel, Journal of Victorian Culture, and Victorian Crime, Madness, and Sensation; she has written introductions for Barnes and Noble’s Classics Series; and she served as an Assistant Editor for the academic journal Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge UP). Prior to receiving her Ph.D. in English, she worked in publishing at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and McGraw-Hill, as a Media Buyer for Christie’s auction house in New York, and as a bartender at the airport in Rochester, where she honed her listening skills. She is a member of Sisters in Crime (National), Desert Sleuths (SinC Arizona) and Mystery Writers of America.

Karen currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, her two children, and her ridiculously cute rescue beagle, Rosy.

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Posted October 12, 2022 by Sophia in Book Review / 21 Comments

21 responses to “Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden

    • What I love most about Victorian London is how the issues so closely mirror our own … just as a small example, there were nearly 1,000 newspapers (large and very local) in London by the 1880s, largely unregulated. This was their social media. The Reynolds News hated the police; the Times liked them. The shadows of the period are long. 🙂

      Karen Odden recently posted: Women in Collaboration
  1. Smashing review, Sophia Rose! (lol). Anyhow, this sounds really good – Similar to Kat Holloway, we get the POV of the working class, and in his case, he’s Irish and a lot stacked against him. I look forward to your review of the first book. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’ve read another book by Karen Odden and really enjoyed it so on that alone this appeals to me. I think the time period is fascinating – especially with the anti-Irish protests. I know a decent amount of the protests on the Irish side but not much on the other side.

    • Yes – I was shocked by the anti-Irish sentiment … voiced from everyone from Benjamin Disraeli (Prime Minister) to men of science and medicine, who claimed such things as being able to tell that the Irish and Celtic races were inferior by the size of their jaw. It really was just … jaw-dropping. The “justifications” for racism (and they did call it the “Irish race” as opposed to “English character”) weren’t all that far off of what we have seen on this side of the Atlantic, sadly. Thank you for reading my other book, and I hope you enjoy this new series.

  3. Thanks so much for this fabulous review!! I’m excited to hear what you think about Down a Dark River. Thank you heaps for your support, all these years!