MYSTERY

A Perilous Undertaking: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery

Berkley. Jan. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9780451476159. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780698198456. M
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Butterflies and not-so-closeted Victorian sexcapades abound in Raybourn's deliciously quirky sequel to A Curious Beginning, which introduced amateur lepidopterist, sleuth, and all-around independent woman Veronica Speedwell. Veronica's fondness for solving crimes gets her an exclusive invitation from a mysterious woman who calls herself Lady Sundridge to join the women-only Curiosity Club. Lady Sundridge's dear friend Artemisia, an artist, has been murdered, and her widower, Miles Ramsforth, will soon be hanged for the crime if Veronica can't unmask the real killer. Veronica joins forces with her friend Stoker, and the pair traipse through Artemisia's artistic world, with stops at an opium den and an underground grotto on the Ramsforth estate set up to satisfy all manner of sexual peccadilloes. Hidden sex caves on wealthy art patrons' estates are naturally going to attract those in the highest levels of society, who may not take too kindly to someone—let alone a woman—poking into their private business. This leads to much of the tension Raybourn weaves in among the witty banter.
VERDICT An unbuttoned—in every sense of the word

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