A Treacherous Curse
Veronica Speedwell, Book #3
By Deanna Raybourn
Author’s website: www.deannaraybourn.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.
But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything.
A Treacherous Curse, the third delightful installment in the outstanding Veronica Speedwell mystery series, finds our intrepid protagonists Veronica Speedwell and Stoker Templeton-Vane involved in the mysterious disappearance of Stoker’s former best mate, the diadem de Morgan is suspected of stealing, and the Egyptian curse seemingly following the Tiverton Expedition home to London from Egypt. To solve the mystery, dark secrets from Stoker’s past must be revealed. The pair finds themselves dealing with Stoker’s first wife, a petulant teenager, an American millionaire, an obsessed explorer, and deceit and danger at every turn.
It is no secret that Deanna Raybourn is among my favorite authors, and I was bursting with excitement to read the further adventures of Veronica ad Stoker. The Egyptian emphasis makes it all the more appealing. Like many Victorians of the era, I am fascinated by all things Egyptian. I simply adore Veronica and Stoker. Their banter, at which Raybourn excels, is sharp, smart, and, at times, hilarious. I hang on every word that they utter. Veronica is generally the smartest person in the room, and, unfortunately, she knows it. She is unapologetically herself, not caring one bit about being a proper English lady or fitting into society’s mold. She has baggage and secrets of her own (most of which we learn in the first book of the series, A Curious Beginning). In A Treacherous Curse, we learn the secrets that Stoker has held so dear, the very circumstances that make him the moody, smoldering man he is today. It is a fascinating revelation, and I love him all the more for him overcoming his betrayal and experiences. Though this is not a romance novel, the chemistry between Veronica and Stoker is electric and delicious to behold.
I admit, once I leaned how John de Morgan and his wife Caroline betrayed Stoker, I had a difficult time feeling bad about his disappearance. We are left most of the book wondering if he met with foul play or disappeared of his own initiative. Is he a good or bad guy in this narrative? As is most often the case in real life, here, too, he is a bit of both. We meet several interesting characters in the course of the investigation, and I was surprised in the end who turned out to be the “bad guys”. The idea of an ancient curse following the explorers home keeps the story’s momentum and provides the danger and mystique that keeps the tale exciting.
Deanna Raybourn maintains her place at the top of my “must read” list, and I hope there are many more adventures featuring Veronica and Stoker to come. I highly recommend A Treacherous Curse to any historical mystery/fiction reader and those who appreciate lively protagonists.