cover image A Perilous Undertaking: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery

A Perilous Undertaking: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery

Deanna Raybourn. Berkley, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-451-47615-9

Raybourn’s effervescent sequel to 2015’s A Curious Beginning combines witty suspense with a playful look at the secrets proper Victorians hid. When Veronica, an adventurous lepidopterist, meets a woman calling herself Lady Sundridge, she easily deduces her exalted true identity. Lady Sundridge wants Veronica to reinvestigate the murder of an artist known as Artemisia. Though she wants her late friend’s death avenged, the woman insists that Artemisia’s lover, Miles Ramsforth, soon to be hanged for the crime, is not guilty. Veronica and her associate, aristocratic natural historian Revelstoke “Stoker” Templeton-Vane, wend their way through opium dens, artists’ studios, the headquarters of Scotland Yard, and the Elysian Grotto, an underground cave lavishly fitted out for sexual pleasure on the Ramsforth estate. The sleuths’ lives are threatened as their investigation uncovers peccadillos at the highest levels of society. Revelations about Stoker’s painful past add nuance to the pair’s spirited and sexually charged banter in this playful historical. Agent: Pam Hopkins, Hopkins Literary Associates. (Jan.)