A Perilous Undertaking: Veronica Speedwell Novel #2. Deanna Raybourn. Penguin Publishing Group. January 2017. 352 pp. ISBN#: 9780451476159.
Victoria Speedwell is a sharp lepidopterist who is back again to solve a new mystery with her natural historian/taxidermist buddy, Stoker. When Victoria is invited to a woman’s club that is like men’s clubs of the Victorian era in 1887, a place where women’s intelligence and interest in just about anything are allowed to shine and be shared. Victoria meets a formidable member, Lady Sundridge, who brings Victoria into a quiet room where she is scrutinized and queried by another woman. Victoria takes very little time to figure out that she is being addressed by a member of royalty. Now Lady Sundridge had already begged Victoria to assist in solving the mystery of the murder of a woman named Artemesia, the lover of a famous society art patron, Miles Ramsforth who is to be hanged for the murder in only two days. Not too much pressure! Add to the fact that Victoria she will meet her own father if she succeeds. Both sides of this quest have very different, unknown motives in resolving these mysteries with success!
Stoker and Victoria discover the more sordid side of royalty in a secret sex society and other mysterious places and people. As usual, Victoria receives a secret communication that threatens her life is he insists on continuing her investigation of the circumstances surrounding Artemisia’s death.
No spoiler’s here – we soon discover there are plenty of suspects who might have committed the murder. We also meet several high society and royal personages who are a part of the decadence so characteristic of this historical time. Add to that the mystery behind Victoria and Stoker’s relationship which seems slightly hot, growing hotter but never actually getting there, a frustrating conundrum for readers!
A Perilous Undertaking is a satisfying read that starts off slowly but gradually picks up momentum with plenty of twists and turns all the way to the surprising final page! Nicely done, Deanna Raybourn!