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A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn: A Book Review

A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

     London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

     But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth. 

     My Review: After the death of her aunt, Veronica is almost abducted. She is aided by a German baron, who warns that she is in danger. He enlists his reclusive friend, Stoker, to ensure her protection. Shortly afterwards, they learn that the baron is dead under mysterious circumstances. This forces them to go run and hide. While they are suspicious of each other, they must work together to uncover the truth about the baron’s death.

      Veronica is a lepidopterist, who is interested in the natural history of moths and butterflies. She is independent for a woman of her age and does not like to conform to the norms of Victorian society. She is very intelligent and is observant. She pays a lot of attention to the little details to others. However, she can be a bit judgmental. She shoots down other people’s ideas if they do not correlate with her own. This sometimes makes her arrogant. 

     I did find her partner Stoker to be more interesting than Veronica. While he seems to be temperamental, it is obvious there is more to him than what he seems. He is a man who has faced many tragedies, and it is because of his past that he is hardened. It is hard for him to trust others and is suspicious of them. Yet, he is a good partner for Veronica. He knows many things and is also intelligent. Unlike Veronica, who is judgmental, he is very open-minded and sees things differently than she does. Without Stoker, Veronica would have lasted long in this novel, and she definitely would not have solved the mystery.

     Overall, this novel is about two people coming to terms with their past. This book is pretty slow. There is more dialogue in this book than action. The mystery is mostly in the background until over halfway through the novel, and I found it very predictable with no suspense and loose ends. While this is not Deanna Raybourn’s best work that I have read, nevertheless, it was still a light, entertaining read. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I recommend this book to anyone interested in mysteries set in the Victorian era.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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