Published: March 10, 2020
Read as: US hardcover, owned
My rating: 3
Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to help with a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, known as the Club de l’Etoile, and the proprietess, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel from the club before scandal can break.
Worse yet, London is gripped by hysteria in the autumn of 1888, terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper–and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.
Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore’s high class brothel, where another body soon turns up. Many secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family–and it’s up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it’s too late for all of them.
“A woman who knows her mind is a surprise to a certain type of man. They do not know how to react to it, so they generally obey.”
For the past couple years I have shouted my love of this series for everyone to hear. The first four books featuring our delightfully brilliant and witty Ms. Veronica Speedwell kept me glued to the page cover to cover and left me with a smile on my face. The mysteries are carefully crafted with clues peppered through the story even though I never seem to guess correctly who the murderer is at the end.
Unfortunately, this time, it was obvious who had committed the murder and in fact was pointed out on several occasions. The story in A Murderous Relation was less about the mystery and more about the overarching subplot of Veronica’s more than slightly psychotic uncle and a shaky, half formed plot for the nere-do-wells to overthrow the monarchy.
I think that was a large problem for me with this book and why I rated it considerably lower than I typically would a Veronica Speedwell mystery. The problem is that there was no mystery. You learn almost immediately after the murder who did it and why. In my opinion, that took away one of my favorite parts of these books. I very much enjoy getting absorbed into the story as Veronica and her ever faithful Stoker find clues, try to connect loose ends, and have some of the best witty banter I have ever read. However, because there was nothing to solve, all of my favorite parts poofed into thin air.
It is difficult to find much else to say about this book. The murderer is known early on, the setting is mostly in a nearly empty room, and there was never enough tension at any point for me to think that Speedwell and Stoker were truly in any danger. Some of my beloved banter showed up but it was overshadowed by the lack of, well, I hate to say it, plot.
I really do love the Veronica Speedwell mysteries and will pick up Raybourn’s next book without a second’s hesitation. Just because the type of story telling done in this book didn’t particularly float my boat doesn’t mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with it. It is just different and in this case different didn’t work for me. I would still recommend this series in its entirety whole heartedly.