Tuesday 4 July 2023

CBR15 Book 24: "A Sinister Revenge" by Deanna Raybourn

Page count: 320 pages
Rating: 3 stars

This is book 8 in the Veronica Speedwell series. It's not a good place to start. You want the first book, A Curious Beginning.

15-word review: Veronica tries to discover who wants to murder Stoker’s brother. Stoker is sadly mostly absent.

Official book summary:
Veronica's natural-historian beau, Stoker, has been away in Bavaria for months and their relationship is at an impasse. But when Veronica shows up before him with his brother, Tiberius, Lord Templeton-Vane, he is lured back home by an intriguing job offer: preparing an iguanodon for a very special dinner party.

Tiberius has received a cryptic message - along with the obituaries of two recently deceased members of his old group of friends, the Seven Sinners-that he too should get his affairs in order. Realizing he is in grave danger but not knowing why, he plans a reunion party for the remaining Sinners at his family estate to lure the killer out while Veronica and Stoker investigate.

As the guests arrive and settle in, the evening's events turn deadly. More clues come to light, leading Veronica, Stoker, and Tiberius to uncover a shared past among the Sinners that has led to the fatal present. But the truth might be far more sinister than what they were prepared for.

Good things: 
- We get an exciting new location, the Templeton-Vane's family estate.
- Stoker's brothers are always entertaining - we get both Tiberius and Merryweather in this one.
- Who doesn't love a dinosaur fossil?

Bad things:
- Stoker is mostly absent for the majority of the book. He's off restoring the model of the iguanodon and avoiding Veronica.
- The mystery of this one ended up being a bit preposterous.
- I found Veronica pretty insufferable in this one. 

While I have enjoyed a lot of the previous Veronica Speedwell mysteries in the past, this one felt underwhelming and it took me longer than usual to get through it. Veronica is a character who is frequently portrayed as somewhat self-centred and oblivious to those around her, and while I fully respect Ms. Raybourn's choice to let her heroine be flawed and dislikable, I'm not sure I want to keep reading the series unless Veronica, our main protagonist, goes through some changes. Stoker is by far my favourite character in these books and the choice to have him off-page for much of the mystery certainly didn't help things. 

I'm choosing to hope that this was just a weaker entry in the series, and will give the author at least one more chance, based on the many novels of hers I've enjoyed in the past. 

Judging a book by its cover: I'm really not sure why the little silhouette that's supposed to be Veronica is holding a butterfly net, as her main pastime of lepidoptery seems to have been entirely forgotten by now. I do, however, really like the various dinosaur bones and other fossils decorating the cover on this one. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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