Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4), by Deanna Raybourn

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451490711, arch 2019

Veronica Speedwell and Revelstoke Templeton-Vane have come to an impasse in their relationship--each realizing their feelings for the other, and each believing the other is still too grieving and damaged by past events to act on such feelings. Hence Veronica heads for Madeira with Lady Cordelia for several months while Stoker continues cataloging and restoring the taxidermied creatures of Lord Rosemorran's proposed museum. When she returns, she finds she's still not ready to return to her previous, comfortable relationship with Stoker, and she leaps at the chance to go off with Stoker's elder brother, Tiberius, a.k.a. Viscount Templeton-Vane, to visit an old friend of his and acquire larvae of the rare Romilly glasswing butterfly.

While the butterflies and the offer of larvae is real, it's really just bait to get Veronica to accompany him, and to lure Stoker to follow them, thinking he's defying rather than accommodating his older brother.

The real reason is that their host, Malcolm Romilly, wants to investigate the disappearance, and possible death, of his his bride, Rosamund, on their wedding day three years earlier.

Malcolm wants Tiberius there. Tiberius wants Veronica and Stoker there. They are, after all, the ones who keep getting involved in quite dangerous investigations. Also present are Malcolm's sister Mertensia; Helen Romilly, widow of Malcolm and Mertensia's brother Lucian; Helen and Lucian's son Caspian; Mrs. Trengrouse the housekeeper, who started out ans the nursery maid when Malcolm and his siblings were infants; and assorted other servants.

Nobody, of course, is telling the whole truth. Tiberius was in love with Rosamund, and wasn't present for the wedding because he decided he couldn't stand it and went to Russia with his hated father, who has since died. Malcolm thinks it's very likely Rosamund ran away to be with Tiberius, or perhaps tried to and drowned, trying to get off the island. Helen and Caspian had reason to fear a marriage to Rosamund would produce an heir that would cut out Caspian as heir. Both Mertensia and Mrs. Trengrouse had quarreled with Rosamund the day before the wedding, because she had plans for the castle that would have eliminated their roles there.

Really, everyone had a potential motive for killing Rosamund and hiding her body. Of those present, only Veronica and the Templeton-Vane brothers couldn't have done it.

That means, of course, the murderer is among them. Unless it was an accident, but then where's the body? Or perhaps it was the mermaids or the least some of the islanders believe that's a possibility.

It's a complicated mystery with not a lot to go on. Along the way, we learn interesting revelations about Stoker and Tiberius, especially Tiberius, and there are hints dropped from Lady Wellie that the next case Veronica and Stoker will tackle may be the case of Jack the Ripper.

Good characters, good story. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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