A Murderous Relation is a Victorian novel at its best
A Murderous Relation #5, Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published March 2019, 320 pages
I read the first installment, A Curious Beginning, last year and no others since then. I'm pleased to say that these can be read as stand alone books. I enjoy reading a series but really appreciate one that can also mostly stand alone AND doesn't spend half of the book explaining and retelling earlier plots. There were a few references to "when Sir Hugo asked us last time" or "remember when you got shot in shoulder" but while that might have been a good reference for previous readers, they made no impact on the current story. Love that!
I very quickly got into the fast paced, no nonsense style of Victoria again. She's one formidable woman! Action packed as usual: she meets her half brother (the future King of England), they all end up in costume at a very high end brothel, she and Stoker again have their disagreements and their sexual tension. The same great cast is back with the evil uncle once again trying to capitalize on her connection to the throne. A rollicking good time.
"Archibond was like every other fanatic I had encountered: fixed upon his own ambitions while cloaking them in a mantle of beneficence. ... He, like so many other greater men before him, longed to leave his mark upon the world, and he cared nothing for the devastation that might ensue."
Raybourn certainly is good at portraying the Victorian sensibilities and era. The dialog is crisp and clever and vocabulary appropriate. Descriptions of the pervasive poverty contrasted with the wealth of the posh upper class is sharp. A Murderous Relation is set in the 1800s during the time of Jack the Ripper and all of Scotland Yard is busy trying to solve that case. It's an underlying element of the story all along, though ends up being just a sideline. But Raybourn does make an effort to address the social issues around the victims and handles that very well.
As the romance between Victoria and Stoker heats up (and boils over), I appreciate the way it is handled. While their attraction and their thoughts about that attraction are referred to throughout the novel, the culmination is tasteful and not explicit - as is appropriate in a cozy mystery.
"I had never in the whole of my life known such perfect companionship, the quarrels and the laughs, the moments of complete and unspoken understanding. He was not another half, for I was whole unto myself. But he was my mirror, and in him I saw reflected all that I liked best in me. ... He was a twin soul to my own...."
The main quibble I had, the actual eye-rolling moment, is the gun fight. Hmmmm - a bit Hollywood, really stretching any credulity - but, it is a novel after all. And it was only one scene that ultimately tied things up very tidily.
If you're a fan of the series, you'll be more than satisfied with this book and if you're new to the author or this series, jump in - the reading is fine! Do you like books set in Victorian England, or mysteries with a strong female lead? Read this and tell me what you think.
Reading challenge: #ReadHarder20 #7: historical fiction not in WWII.
photo of Parliament in London by Terrie Purkey