A Murderous Relation: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery, by Deanna Raybourn. Reviewed by Gregory G.H. Rihn
I have reviewed the “Veronica Speedwell Mysteries” as being of interest to Steampunk readers, since they share many of the tropes Steampunks enjoy: Victorian science, eccentric characters, and crime detection. In A Murderous Relation, it isAutumn, 1888: “Jack the Ripper” stalks the East End, and the eye of suspicion falls everywhere, including on members of the Royal Family.
Veronica and Stoker have finally agreed to act on the acknowledged sexual attraction between them, but, both being closet romantics, have to agree on a suitable time and place. This series having a comic edge, this becomes a running gag, as when they find a good place, there is no time, and, when there is time, they are stuck in an unpleasant place.
One of their major stumbling blocks is the Crown Princess Alexandra, who relies on Veronica’s tenuous family ties, and almost as equally tenuous patriotism, to pull the two of them into a plot. Alexandra’s eldest son, Prince Albert Victor, has unwisely gifted an expensive and easily identifiable jewel to the glamorous Madame Aurora, keeper of London’s most de luxe brothel and house of assignation. The Royal Family cannot take the chance that the jewel will be used for blackmail, or, worse, be “discovered” in some place implicating Albert Victor in the Ripper murders.
This plot is more of an adventure than a mystery, as the plan to recover the jewel falls foul of the villains’ counterplot. While it’s always enjoyable to read about Victoria and Stoker, and their friends and relations, it appears that author Raybourn may be running out her string, since a previous villain recurs, which seems a bit early in a five-book series, and the setting of Madame Aurora’s house harks back to the Hellfire Club grotto from book two.
So: amusing if not exciting for fans of Veronica and Stoker. New readers would be better advised to pick up at A Curious Beginning, which starts the series.