Book 2 in a series, start with A Curious Beginning if you’re a completionist. No spoilers in this review!
If you like daring, smart rebels, then Veronica Speedwell is for you. Set in London, 1887, a female butterfly hunter and adventurer like Speedwell is pretty out of place. That’s why she’s excited to visit the Curiosity Club, a place for women like her. There she finds a woman hiding her identity, who wants her to save an innocent man from hanging for murder. The rest of society seems convinced he killed his pregnant mistress, but it becomes clear there are plenty of secrets to be uncovered. Working with Stoker again, they will have to find the truth before it’s too late–and the hunt will take them to some strange and dangerous places.
Speedwell is at times hung up on how unconventional she is, but she’s overall an interesting character–wounded by her past, perfectly happy to flirt with a handsome man, brave in the face of danger, good with a knife, a mix of sentimental and ruthless. The friendship between her and Stoker develops more (they didn’t meet under the best of circumstances) and we’re given bits of both their histories–and learn they have more in common than it seemed. The investigation is interrupted with dashes of intrigue, humor, and personal revelations, all the while building to a conclusion you might see coming. The murder is only part of the mystery, and there are other issues raised within the story, leaving me curious what is next for these characters.
A good read for mystery fans, and/or people who like Victorian fiction.