A Dangerous Collaboration: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery (Series #4). Deanna Raybourn. Penguin Publishing Group. March 2019; hb and eBook, 336 pp.; ISBN: 9780451490711.
Veronica Speedwell and her friend Stoker are off on another adventure. This time they are initially split as Veronica is invited to travel to an island off the coast of Cornwall. Stoke’s brother, Tiberius, justifies her visit by saying Veronica is his fiancée. High tension exists between Veronica and Stoker as both are facing their romantic feelings for each other and Veronica is unsure how such a romance would conflict with her long-held independent stance in moving through the world – whether that be mundane or adventurous with exploration. Veronica is going to the island of the Romilley family, ostensibly to obtain a unique insect, the glasswing butterfly.
It turns out that Stoker shows up after having conjured an invitation. Long before we meet the members of the Romilley family, there are words and an atmosphere foreshadowing something mysterious and tense. It turns out they have been invited to help Lord Malcolm’s mystery – the disappearance of his wife hours after their wedding. It turns out a bag belonging to the bride is all that remains.
The plot pivots from secrets to clues in cycles – a poison garden, a woman with “the sight” who spreads her uncomfortable hints without permission, secret hide-a-way spots throughout the host’s home, the tumultuous sea adjoining the Romilley mansion, some curmudgeon characters to spice up the frequent verbal sparring, and so much more. As usual, the author drops just enough clues at just the right spots to keep the river riveted from the first to the last page.
The descriptions of the meals will have readers drooling and heading for food, just a minor addition that deftly eases the tension between the increasingly hostile guesses and dialogue. Every family member and even the “help” has a motive for causing harm to the missing bride. Add to that some revelations between Stoker and Tiberius that are some part of the main mystery but become a sub-plot for Stoker, Tiberius and Veronica.
Again, A Dangerous Collaboration… is a delightful mystery that will satisfy every fan of the genre. It’s a can’t put down book that will make readers want to also read the other three novels of the Veronica Speedwell Series. Delightful, well-crafted writing from a highly skilled artist, Deanna Raybourn!