logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: historical-mystery
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-04-20 14:41
Thoughts: A Perilous Beginning
A Perilous Undertaking - Deanna Raybourn

A Perilous Beginning
by Deanna Raybourn

Book 2 of Veronica Speedwell

 

 

London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman's noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.

From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....



I'm going to admit, the excitement of this series kind of faded after a while, and that refreshing feel you get from a first book that starts off a series strong might have worn off.  Nonetheless, I still loved reading A Perilous Undertaking a lot, and continue to enjoy the interactions between Veronica and Stoker--these two create a really strong, intimate, yet not quite romantic relationship and partnership that feels, at times, even deeper than a lot of romantic couplings I've read before.

Admittedly, this second book didn't seem to carry the same "flashy new gift" feel you get from discovering a lovely new favorite book--the giddiness I felt for the previous book didn't rear its head.  After finishing the read, I'd say that I like the first book, A Curious Beginning (my review) more.  Although it doesn't escape my notice that the story set-up is much more to the point in this second book; in contrast to A Curious Beginning, this second book doesn't spend endless pages taking you on a side tangent that seems unnecessary in the long run.

I'm not sure how I feel about that, because it has long been one of the complaints I've had about Deanna Raybourn's work since the Lady Julia Grey series--the fact that she spends way too much time building each book's story, world, and introductory.

So I found myself pleasantly surprised at how quickly A Perilous Undertaking hopped right into the murder mystery, bringing Veronica and Stoker into the investigation without dawdling.

Coupled with Raybourn's beautiful writing style, and this book would be darn near perfect for me.


While the first book in this series seemed to focus on Veronica on a more personal level, it feels like this second book is a simple, typical murder mystery; and somehow Veronica and Stoker get entangled in the entire, convoluted twists.  In fact, I sort of got a "cozy mystery" vibe from it, though I suppose it wouldn't be far-fetched to label this book a 'Cozy.'

We still get to touch upon some of the family secrets surrounding Veronica and how she's been affected since the big reveal in the previous book.  And, just as well, we also get to touch upon some personal history of Stoker's--we even get to meet two more siblings in the Templeton-Vane family.

While the murder mystery seemed quite predictable, I can't say it wasn't outlined well.  The progression was great, and the red herrings were placed appropriately.  Related characters were colorful and intriguing in their own way.  I just also get a bit frustrated with characters who get all "I'm not telling you anything even if it could help an innocent man go free" for whatever strange reasons that I didn't really understand, to be honest.  Moving past that, the overall story was still lovely and I enjoyed following Veronica and Stoker in their investigations.

And, as always, I enjoy the character interactions a lot, especially between Veronica and others.  She's a very likable woman, with all the traits of a strong, independent heroine, which is why I love her so much.  She's also quite indifferent to how others perceive her, and pretty much just does as she pleases.  Her banter with Stoker is probably the best parts of the book.

If there was one thing I'd have to say I had trouble with, it would be that Veronica's character feels a lot more... deliberate in this book than the previous.  It feels like the author has taken many pains to make sure of the emphasis on Veronica's open independence in everything she says or does, from how she lives her life, to her unabashed love of sexual dalliances, to her indifferent, blasé feelings about how people view her.  In agreement with some other reviewers, there may not be much explicit sex in this book, but it certainly is mentioned A LOT, and by Veronica, no less.  I've read hardcore erotica where the characters don't even talk about sex this much.

But it's not just about Veronica's open views about sex that are deliberately emphasized.  It's her entire demeanor from her ideas about the heart, feelings, the way she interacts with other characters.  Even her stubbornness in always being right or always being in charge of everything--as Stoker DOES point out at some point, indirectly.  While I love that she's so confident in herself, and I love that she's not shy about it, I feel like the way it was presented just felt too calculated from the author's side--as if the readers aren't already aware that Veronica is so free with her life and thoughts, and we need to be reminded over and again with every action and dialogue, all of it kind of blatantly aggressively presented.

Veronica may not fit into the setting's time frame, and is probably way too forward thinking for the era she lives in to feel real.  And, truth be told, I love her straight forward, Devil May Care personality, just fine.  But she is sometimes, throughout the book, presented as way too perfect, even in spite of some of the flaws the author gives her.

I'm not sure I know how to describe it properly, honestly; but the "in your face" way that Veronica's attributes are presented... it can get a little eye-roll-inducing at times.

Nonetheless, A Perilous Undertaking is still an exceptionally enjoyable book.  And I loved it!  And I am definitely looking forward to the third book.


***

Booklikes-opoly


Roll #1:
This book is tagged as 'mystery.'

Page Count:  345
Case Award:  +$3.00

Current Bank:  $23.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/04/thoughts-perilous-undertaking.html
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-04-20 07:30
Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause (Miss Dimple, #2)
Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause - Mignon F. Ballard

 Set in small-town Northern Georgia during WWII, this series gives a great sense of time and place; it reminds me a lot of that old TV series Homefront (early 90's?).

 

As for the mystery though, it was o.k., but overly-convoluted.  If Ballard had been able to structure it differently it would have worked a lot better, but as is, it's more than a little hard to follow.  A skeleton is discovered during a school outing, the money from a bond rally goes missing, the town slacker goes missing, Miss Dimple's landlady is getting mysterious notes and someone is shot during the follies.

 

There are a lot of characters in this book and, told in third person, from the POV of several of them, the first few chapters felt like a hot mess - I couldn't keep anybody straight.  Even after they sorted themselves out I never felt entirely confident about who was who as the POV shifted - I had to remind myself often about how someone was related to everyone else.  Each chapter starts with the internal dialogue of one of the characters, but it's never the same one, and they all remain unnamed.  This is likely done on purpose because it's the criminal, but when it wasn't, it became overly confusing.

 

The author kept using rifle and shotgun interchangeably; for someone who knows the difference, this is a big deal: a rifle shoots a single bullet at a time; a shotgun shoots a single shell full of tiny bullets (called buckshot) that spray outwards soon after exiting the barrel.  So, when a shotgun was reported missing, but later someone was shot and had a single bullet wound, it messed with the plot and my head; until the terms were used interchangeably again and it became obvious what was going on, I thought there were two weapons.

 

Still, I enjoyed the story and the characters.  The series is "Miss Dimple" but really the mystery solving is a team effort on the part of the women holding everything together while the war rages on.  At the end it becomes clear that there are several threads of mischief running through Elderberry at the same time, but really, I stuck around to see if Will would show up for Charlie one last time before being shipped off.

 

                                                                                              

 

 

Page count: 262
Dollars banked: $3.00

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-04-13 15:31
Ashes of London
Ashes of London - Andrew Taylor

This, ladies and gentlemen, is an official DNF.

 

I don't make those very often; mostly I let a book marinate in my "currently reading" pile, because I might get back to it.  I save DNF for a book that I know I will never "get back to."

 

Ashes of London is one of those.  And I'm disappointed, because I was looking forward to this one.  Mystery thriller set in the Great Fire of London and the aftermath!  Just my type of thing.

 

Not so much.  We start with the fire well under way - with the collapse of Old St Paul's Cathedral, the great medieval hulk, begun by William the Conqueror, that towered over the London of Charles II.  But we don't get a dead body, or anything like a crime.  (You would expect one by 15% in, which is about as far as I got.)

 

Aside from the fire, we don't really get a sense of 1666 at all.  I read historical fiction to get a sense of the past.  I didn't get that feel here.  This could have been any pre-modern time with a big fire.

 

The writing is bland.  We get no real sense of 1666.  The characters are fairly flat.  And we have two protagonists.  (I dislike multiple protagonists, particularly uncharacterized multiple protagonists.  Instead of giving us two flat narrators, how about giving us one interesting and developed one?)

 

So now I'm about 15% in, and nothing is really exciting me about this one.  And then

Taylor decides to start the characterization of our female narrator by having her mustachio-twisting cousin (he fairly screams "I am evil!") rape her

(spoiler show)

, and I am out.  I will never pick up this book again.

 

Because first I was bored, there was neither a sense of the past or a visible mystery to solve, and I didn't care about the characters (I can't even be bothered to remember their names), and then I was offended.  And now I am gone.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-04-03 17:13
In This Grave Hour
In This Grave Hour: A Maisie Dobbs Novel - Jacqueline Winspear

In This Grave Hour is the most recent "Maisie Dobbs" historical mystery, and about the dozenth or so in the series.  This series began when it was 1929, and Miss Dobbs was first opening her detective agency in a quiet London square.  It is now September 1939, Britain is at war with Germany, and Maisie has a new case - is someone murdering men who were refugees from Belgium when they were boys, 25 years ago?

 

Matters are complicated by her father having 3 child evacuees living with him down in the country - two boys whom he can handle, and a five-year-old girl who won't talk.  An additional problem is that no one seems to know her name, who her parents are, or where she's from.

 

Maisie will investigate both cases, and come to suspect that her client is either lying to her, or not telling the entire truth.

 

This was a distinct improvement from the last one, Journey to Munich, which featured spies and Americans ex machina.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-30 00:02
The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

I'm not sure there's much I can say here that I didn't already say in my status updates.  

 

This book is long; perhaps not by page count, but psychologically, it often felt endless.

 

Eco is a very talented writer if the only measurements of talent were creating a sense of place, bringing many characters to life, and plotting out a good story.  But he writes excessively.  His sentences run on well past anybody's idea of reasonable, he cannot stop himself from creating lists in narrative form that often run over a page long, and the theological lessons were excessively excessive.  All up, if you could go back and edit the book to include only plot related scenes, I'm not sure the book would be 200 pages long.

 

But those 200 pages would have made a spectacular read.  The abbey, the labyrinthine library, the passages, the codes, the books... the murders.  So much atmosphere, so much potential!

 

The book is broken into 7 days and most of the plot snowballs and takes place in days 6 and 7.  Here William of Baskerville once again channels his inner Sherlock, and the showdown is magnificent.  And tragic.  Days 6 and 7 earned this book the third star.

 

I'm not sorry at all that I read this; I complained a lot along the way, but a lot of it stuck with me.  Still, unless you enjoy a richly written verbosity in your reads, I can't recommend this one.  If the setting and plot sound like your thing - and I can't believe I'm going to say this - watch the movie instead.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?