Monday, January 22, 2018

A Treacherous Curse, by Deanna Raybourn

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451476173, January 2018

Veronica Speedwell and Revelstoke Templeton-Vane--Stoker--are working away at their respective restoration and cataloging duties in the Belvedere, the future museum on the grounds of the home of the Earl of Rosemorran. It's the Earl's family collection of animals, insects, devices, and other oddities that they are cataloging.

Then an expedition to Egypt returns, with treasures, a story of a curse killing members of the expedition, and the expedition photographer, John de Morgan, missing, along with a valuable diadem found in the tomb the Tivington expedition excavated on this trip.

De Morgan was once Stoker's best friend. He's now married to Stoker's former wife, Caroline, who left Stoker apparently dying in the Amazon. Caroline returned to Britain and divorced him, claiming cruelty, and in the process destroying his reputation.

De Morgan may be a thief, who has stolen the diadem to finance an escape from his tempestuous marriage. Or he may be dead, killed by the real thief. If de Morgan is dead, Stoker is the most likely suspect in his murder.

Stoker and Veronica have to find him before what's left of Stoker's reputation is irretrievably gone, and he himself is perhaps convicted of murder.

They meet Sir Leicester and Lady Tivington, Sir Leicester's daughter from his first marriage, Iphigenia, and his assistant, Patrick Fairbrother. They meet Sir Leicester's long-time friend and now rival, American millionaire Horace Stihl and his son, Henry.

Veronica meets, and Stoker has to meet again, his beautiful ex-wife, Caroline de Morgan.

Looked at one way, no one has a motive. Looked at another way, it's possible everyone does. But who really does?

Raybourn gets the content and rhythm of late Victorian conversation right, and Veronica, Stoker, and the other regulars are great characters that it's fun to continue to learn more about. The pacing is very good. The only thing I'm not wholly satisfied with is Veronica's relationship with her father, which I really can't say any more about. Hopefully that's another thing that will continue to develop over future books.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.