A world-travelled lepidopterologist who dabbles in detective work with a stunningly handsome male associate seems like a preposterous premise, and I am always down for the preposterous.
“A Dangerous Collaboration,” the fourth Veronica Speedwell murder mystery, is fun, silly, and fast.With great writing and a superficial plot, I finished it in a day.
The playful writing also compensated for the less-than-intriguing story. Set in Victorian Cornwall, Veronica Speedwell is invited to an isolated island off the coast of Cornwall and is quickly introduced a cast of colorful
characters that inhabit the castle. None of them seem particularly intelligent or evil, and the well-respected family is just barely recovering from the disappearance of a bride three years before.
As much as I loved the writing, the mystery tropes seemed too familiar to be fresh (sliding panels to hide behind walls! a poison garden!). The world seemed much more a cos-play of Victorian England than truly rooted in it. Sure, there was something about a missing bride, questionable inheritance, and plenty of supernatural suggestions (which, as a murder mystery with a scientist protagonist, wasn’t believable even for a page), but the most interesting part was the interactions between Veronica, her maybe more than friend Stoker, and his brother, with far and away the most interesting being Stoker and his brother.
It is also forgiving of those who haven’t read the first three yet, myself included. But that is going to be fixed soon because Raybourn’s love of language and word games was by far the best part of the book, even besting Veronica’s cleverly hidden weapons. It is what kept me up until one o’clock in the morning, when my alarm was going off at 6:00 a.m.
Raybourn may not have weaved a compelling mystery, but anytime I want to put on a deerstalker hat without leaving my living room, hers is what I’ll pick up.