I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
London, 1887. At the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task--saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Ramsforth, accused of the brutal murder of his mistress, Artemisia, will face the hangman's noose in a week's time if the real killer is not found.
But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural-historian colleague, Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer. From a Bohemian artists' colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....
Well, I am disappointed that this author has withdrawn from the writers’ conference in my city in August. I enjoyed this second book in the Veronica Speedwell series almost as much as the first! I do hope that she will attend When Words Collide in the future.
I came into this series a bit suspicious, as I have my reservations about the whole Victorian-lady-detective set-up. I know, I know, it’s popular right now to re-write Victorian society to give it larger, more interesting female roles—and I’m theoretically in favour of that. Thankfully this series has convinced me that the concept can be done and done well.
I love the sassy Veronica and her foil, the cranky Stoker. At this point, they are BFFs and coworkers and their relationship is comfortable, if sometimes complicated. During the first book, we learned about Veronica’s family—this installment educates us about Stoker’s upbringing. They know just enough about one another to provide good advice, whether it is always appreciated or not.
The banter between the two is highly entertaining and I had to assume that at some point they will give in to romance, but I hope that Raybourn doesn’t rush it. Like all the TV shows that use this device, once they become a couple there is the danger that the story will lose all its tension. However, authors like Ilona Andrews have convinced me that there can still be life after the hook-up, so I will travel hopefully into the third book.