A Dangerous Collaboration

By Deanna Raybourn

Fourth book in the Veronica Speedwell mysteries series

Berkley Hardcover

March 12, 2019

$26.00

323 pages

Set in Victorian era, 1888 London

Lepidopterist Miss Veronica Speedwell was not created for a life of ordinary pursuits and it would take an extraordinary man to live with her on her own terms we are told in the first chapter of “A Dangerous Collaboration.” The lady has attitude and that “dear reader” is clearly noted. Though the fourth book in the Veronica Speedwell mysteries series, you’ll be impressed with the lyrical nature of the author’s style.

When an invitation is extended to Tiberius, Lord Templeton-Vane, to travel to a secluded castle he invites Miss Speedwell, his brother’s colleague. For her to accompany him, Tiberius informs his friend that she is his future wife. This lie disturbs Stoker enough for him to meet them after traveling to the remote St. Maddern’s. More than the brother’s jealousy stirs as a storm begins to threaten the safety of those living near the castle.

The premise of the story revolves around an unsolved mystery. Simply said, their host, Tiberius’ old friend Malcolm Romily, the Lord of the castle, cannot rest until he knows what happened to his new bride, Rosamund, on their wedding night. She vanished causing a scandal and destroying any happiness Malcolm might have had in his life. He’s not alone in his misery. His sister, Mertensia, who prefers her poison garden for medicinal purposes, over people, has led a life of isolation. Mertensia is considered a white witch and she doesn’t follow society’s norms. It would seem she does as she pleases, but in reality, she cares for the villagers. Then there’s Malcom’s sister-in-law, Helen and her son, Caspian.

The truth of the matter is that Malcolm wants Tiberius, Veronica and Stoker to solve the mystery so he can end this dark chapter in his life. They agree to dig up clues which can lead to certain realities best left buried.

What’s not to love about this book? The descriptions of the castle present a haunting sketch of its historical structure. There’s twisting stairs of stone, priest holes, tunnels, towers and cellars. There’s house staff, villagers, legends and crafty young boys. In the center of it all is Veronica who is an intelligent renaissance woman who dares to wear pants, carry her specimen pins and not want to be like the women of her time. Loved the clever plot, the personalities of the characters, the arrogance, frustration, tension. Oh, and a lepidopterist collects specimens of butterflies. Malcolm actually told her there was a unique type of butterfly at the castle grounds in an attempt to convince her to come with him. My only regret with this book is that Stoker is fictional. Damn, he sounds like quite the catch.

Five butterfly nets out of five because it’s intelligent

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

May 12, 2019