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broodings from the burrow

June 19, 2019

into the stacks 2019: april
posted by soe 1:09 am

I read five books back in April. Let’s get to them:

A Dangerous Collaboration, by Deanna Raybourn

The fourth book in the Veronica Speedwell series was the weakest so far in my mind. While the Victorian setting was fascinating — a castle on a remote island off the coast of Cornwall with a poison garden on the estate — it felt like scientist and detective Veronica seemed a little off her game. Asked by her partner Stoker’s older brother, Tiberius, to accompany him to the island to collect some rare butterflies for her museum (and under the pretense of his fiancee), Veronica finds herself tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to the bride of the manor who disappeared three years earlier on her wedding day — and who now seems to be haunting the castle. The problem? Everyone present seems to have had a reason to wish her ill — including Tiberius. Will Veronica be able to solve the mystery before she (and Stoker, who follows his brother and the woman we all know he loves) suffers a similar fate?

Of all the gender-bending Sherlock variations I read, Veronica and Stoker come closest to being a true partnership of equal skill and intellect. That aside, though, the reason I read them is because the woman takes the backseat to no one. Does Sherlock need Watson? Absolutely! Is Watson more capable than Sherlock at solving a mystery? Absolutely not! So it rankled a bit that in this mystery the advantage at solving the mystery seemed to favor Stoker. And I get that that may be necessary for overall character development for Stoker to get to take the lead in order for Veronica to truly see him as her equal (and therefore someone she should be willing to enter into a romantic partnership with), but it was irritating that in order for Stoker to get to take the lead in this, Veronica had to be willing to consider the fact that the castle was truly being haunted by a spirit. The author may have cloaked it as scientific open-mindedness, but it felt decidedly out of character for Veronica and led to a disappointing three-star review. Raybourn has announced that the Veronica contract has been extended to include at least another two books, so I’m hopeful they will right the ship. (The next one should focus on Jack the Ripper, since his murder spree was alluded to in this book.)

Pages: 323. Library copy. (more…)

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