Review: A Dangerous Collaboration

A Dangerous Collaboration A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

3.75 Stars

I'm all over the place about this fourth entry in the Veronica Speedwell historical mystery series. The first part of the book had me thinking about throwing my eReader across the room, Stoker-fashion, because I found Veronica so abysmally annoying and out of character. After drawing close to Stoker at the end of A Treacherous Curse, at the start of this book we have Veronica running away to Madeira, presumably in large part to avoid dealing with her feelings and Stoker's. Then, more annoyingly, we have what starts looking like a love triangle between Veronica, Stoker and Stoker's excessively debonair brother, Tiberius. Calling in a favor, Tiberius enlists Veronica's help for an odd reunion on an island off the coast of Cornwall. All she has to do is go along and pretend to be his fiancée. Her reward shall be prized glasswing chrysalides to hold in her butterfly conservatory. I had to reframe things several times (recalling that in the Victorian era, married women were chattel, many women died in childbirth, no reproductive choices were available, other than abstinence, etc. and that all of this is anathema to our lady detective) in order to accept Veronica's occasionally rather callous behavior. To top it off, Stoker was not behaving in a particularly mature fashion, either. Eventually, Raybourn managed to pull the story back around from melodrama to a mystery with the feel of du Maurier's Rebecca.

Lord Malcolm Romilly, once a very close friend of Stoker's brother, Lord Tiberius Templeton-Vane, lost his wife on their wedding day. By which we mean, she disappeared, even though she was on a small island with few places or means by which one can disappear. Three years later, Tiberius and Veronica, and unexpectedly (well, not so much) Stoker (Revelstoke Templeton-Vane) visit Malcolm, his sister Mertensia (that name had me suspicious for a while... Mertensian mimicry, anyone?), his widowed sister-in-law Helen, and her son (Malcolm's nephew and heir) Caspian at the Romilly estate on St. Maddern's Island (fictional, but you can fill in one of the Isles of Scilly if you like) for a reunion that turns into a murder investigation. While Malcolm had hoped that his lovely bride Rosamund had merely run away, he announces to his guests at a fateful dinner that he has evidence that he believes indicates she never left the island. What happened to the beautiful young Mrs. Romilly? Leave it to Veronica and Stoker to find out.

The latter half of the book is what keeps me from giving this entry a flat out 3 stars. Raybourn eventually manages to make Tiberius a three dimensional character, and she even brings things around between Veronica and Stoker, along with giving us a better understanding of Veronica's months-long trip to Madeira.

If you make it past the first hundred pages or so, you'll enjoy this one. I'll be interested to see what Book 5 will bring us.

<i>A Dangerous Collaboration</i> releases in March 2019 but is already available for pre-order at your favorite bookseller.

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Berkeley/Penguin Publishing Group via the First to Read program, in exchange for an honest review.

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