Reviewing A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn is the second book in her Veronica Speedwell series. I reviewed the first one, A Curious Beginning, and it is a book I love. In fact Deanna is an author I love and I look forward to every book she writes. This books takes place straight after the first one ends and Veronica and Stoker are called upon to investigate the murder of an artist.

Even though neither of them are the police or private inquiry agents, they start investigating. And very quickly discover that no one is quite telling the truth…

London, 1887. Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman’s noose if Veronica cannot find the real killer. But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer…

This is a hugely enjoyable mystery with two brilliant lead characters, a whole host of intriguing suspects, and all the twists and turns I could ever want. Deanna Raybourn is an excellent writer and A Perilous Undertaking is full of her trademarked wit and humour and intelligence.

When I think of Victorian England I think of disgusting hygiene, rampant prostitution, and rampant religion. I can’t picture the innovation or progress made during that time; all I see are corpses being stolen. I don’t enjoy books set in the Victorian period and I rarely read them. So it is a testament to how much I love Deanna’s books and writing that I am always eager to read her latest. Until I met Veronica Speedwell I didn’t know anything about adventuresses during that time who wanted a different life. And I love how determined and driven Veronica is to achieve this. She wants everything and I was so happy to go along with her on this ride.

In the course of solving exactly what happened to Artemisia we learn a lot more about Veronica and Stoker’s past and personal lives. I am trying very hard not to give away any spoilers but the revelation of Veronica’s true parentage at the end of book one plays a huge part in book two, and we meet a fair few of Stoker’s brothers and learn a lot more about his parents. The two of them have such a deep friendship and there are so much touching and hilarious scenes between the two of them.

A Perilous Undertaking is cleverly-plotted, and very entertaining. It’s equally as strong as the first (in some cases I liked it a lot more too) and I fell in love with Veronica and Stoker hook, line, and sinker. The dialogue between then is sharp, clever, and very funny. I can’t wait to see what next happens to the two of them!

A Perilous Undertaking is published by Titan Books in the UK and available now from all good and evil retailers. I bought this book myself.


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