Book review: “A Treacherous Curse” by Deanna Raybourn

by Rebecca Henderson Palmer on September 25, 2017

This is Book 3 in the Veronica Speedwell Mystery series by Ms. Raybourn. (Please see the hyperlinks, below, for my reviews of books 1 and 2 of the series.) Veronica and Stoker are forced into their next inquiry by none other than Stoker’s ex-wife Caroline. A baronet and his expedition return to London triumphant after recovering some priceless artifacts from the tomb of an Egyptian princess. The expedition’s true backstory unfolds in splashy media headlines soon after the group’s return. It seems the foreman on the dig died quite suddenly on the job and another member (Caroline’s current husband and Stoker’s one-time best friend) absconded with the princess’ own diadem only to disappear forever after putting foot on English soil. Rumors of a curse ensue and only grow when the Egyptian god Anubis begins to make appearances in various spots around London. The papers are only too keen to rehash Stoker’s nasty separation and divorce from Caroline, so Stoker and Veronica take it upon themselves to uncover the truth, locate Caroline’s missing husband, and return the treasure to the expedition leader. Everyone in the expedition has their own motivations – not least of all the beautiful but complex Caroline de Morgan – but Stoker and Veronica must untangle their stories to defend Stoker’s reputation and recover an item of extreme historical importance.

Ms. Raybourn has exceptional talent for building rich, memorable characters, and this third book in the series is no different. Veronica remains sassy, defiant, and unrepentant. Her sly comments, risqué observations, avant guarde opinions, and sparkling interactions with Stoker make this series a stand out. As I’ve said before, their back-and-forths are so entertaining that you are willing to watch them do almost anything. This one, however, is my least favorite of the three books. The sexual tension that just crackles in the first two books fell noticeably flat here. The prolonged flirtation between the two main characters is now so drawn out – readers have been asking for two books now “will they or won’t they” with so many near misses – that it feels like a non-issue at this point, and that’s a terrible shame. Because the romance was downplayed in this book (purposefully so it felt like), the mystery plot line is strong although careful readers will notice a few hiccups. All in all, an enjoyable rush with some truly memorable characters. I only hope Ms. Raybourn will throw the readers a bone with some kind of substantial emotional developments between Veronica and Stoker in Book 4.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my review.

My reviews of Book 1 (“A Curious Beginning”) and 2 (“A Perilous Undertaking”) of the Veronica Speedwell series can be found by clicking on the linked book numbers.

This title is released on January 16, 2018. Pre-order is available via the Amazon link here.

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