I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Veronica Speedwell series of Victorian-era mysteries, but then I fell behind, and am only now getting around to catching up.
In this installment, Veronica and her friend Stoker are tasked with finding a missing diadem, the crown jewel (pun intended) in an archaeological expedition’s astounding discovery of Egyptian goods.
Not only is the diadem missing, but the leader is also missing. One might assume the two elements are connected, but that’s not the only connection: the missing man is Stoker’s former expedition partner.
As would be expected, rumors of an ancient curse abound, but despite evidence of malfeasance, that’s just superstition, right?
Needless to say, the mystery proves to be even more complicated than it appears, but Raybourn leads us on a merry chase all the way to the satisfying resolution at the end.
While the mystery is completely encapsulated in this volume, readers really ought to begin with A Curious Beginning, the first book in the series, in order to better appreciate both the dynamic between Veronica and Stoker and because of the numerous revelations that would be spoiled by beginning with the third book. If you already know that Stoker is the [redacted] and Veronica is the [redacted], then it loses some of the emotional weight from discovering these elements organically.
That said, these aforementioned elements of characterization are explored in slightly more depth, but there is plenty of room for expansion. This makes sense, since we’re in for the long haul, and there are at least two more books in the series.
Raybourn brings the Victorian world to life in this book, and Veronica and Stoker are supported by an eclectic cast of secondary characters. Some are returning to their supporting roles, and some are new characters. They are all well-rounded and contribute to the search for the missing diadem.
Although Veronica and Stoker are sleuthing partners, their actual relationship remains wholly platonic, although there is an undercurrent of unresolved sexual tension. Alas, Veronica’s strictest rule is that she does not indulge in carnal activities while in England, so they shall have to remain friends for the foreseeable future. Besides which, any indulgence would permanently affect their strong friendship, so better not to tempt fate.
I would absolutely recommend A Treacherous Curse. I should add that I listened to the audiobook version of this, and narrator Angele Masters does a wonderful job of bringing Veronica to life. This is one of my favorite mystery series, and I’m looking forward to reading more in the future.