As some of you may know, I am so obsessed with this series. I have been reviewing these books semi-consistently since starting this blog (see here, here, and here), and the fifth installment to the Veronica Speedwell series will be no exception. This is another one I needed to take a slight step back from the process, since I am very invested in this series. Deanna Raybourn sure knows how to write a book.
From the Publisher:
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.
What I Loved:
- The Banter. Stoker and Veronica are known for their quippy, sarcastic banter, and this installation had it in spades. Despite their latent attraction now out in the open, our favorite dynamic duo still manage to stay sharp, which I am sure is at least part of the attraction. the first line of the book is literally one of the funniest lines I have read in awhile.
What in the name of flaming Hades do you mean his lordship wants me to officiate at the wedding of a tortoise?“ Stoker demanded.
- Prince Albert of Wales, aka Eddie. Prince Eddie (Albert Edward VII) is Veronica’s unwitting half-brother who is sweet, gullible, and a treat to have in this installment. Knowing a little about British history, I was wondering when he would show up, and you can’t help but like him (even when he is being falsely accused of being Jack the Ripper – true story by the way). He is shown as being a little naive and spoiled, but it is okay, because the book allows Veronica’s influence to enlighten him a bit. I liked this aspect, because in real life, the prince is one of the first British monarchs to have been “liberal minded” and constitutionally focused.
- Jack the Ripper. Murderous Relation doesn’t go into great detail with the Ripper killings, though I wish it had – Raybourn’s hints were written tantalizingly well. In one scene, it seems as though Veronica is going to have an encounter, but it is avoided. I also loved that Raybourn included one of the women that he did kill as an ancillary character; it really humanized the victim in a way that isn’t often done. I just wish there was more!
What didn’t work so well:
- The romance. Having read some of Deanna Raybourn’s books under her other pen name, I was really hoping for some steamy scenes now that Stoke and Veronica’s feeling s have been “outed.” Instead, we got a lot of waffling from the two of them, with Veronica not wanting to make the first move and it being “too serious.” I felt like their mutual reluctance to act on their feelings was out of character (for Veronica, at least), and wasn’t really happy about their situation until towards the end.
- The mystery. Without going into too much detail, there is a blast from the past and some unsavory situations with Veronica’s family that I found to be completely out of left field and pretty unnecessary, except to show Eddie that he has a half sister. The mystery was set up so well, then the “whodunnit” and the closure was not that satisfactory.
I love this series so much, even if this installment and book four were not as satisfactory. I felt like this book could have been more, which makes me wonder if this is building up to something crazy in the next two books (I see on Goodreads she is signed for two more at least). 3.5 out of 5 waves, raised to four because I can’t enough of this spunky lepidopterist Veronica and hunky taxidermist Stoker as they challenge life and societal norms head on. Order here to support your local bookstores (sorry not sorry for the shameless plug)!
There was nothing more promising than the first stage of a new expedition. Everything was possible in that moment; there was no past, no future, only that hollow in time when everything paused.