From the desk of Sophia Rose:
A winning combo occurred when talented authoress, Deanna Raybourn, paired Veronica, and Stoker, two of the most eccentric individuals of the Victorian Age. Sparks fly with their scintillating dialogue and spirits draw in their readers and make it an irksome delight to have to wait for each new release. The Impossible Impostor is their next story in the Veronica Speedwell series and I eagerly consumed it.
“I do not care for infants, and even if I did, I should not care for this one.” (Loc 71)
In this seventh installment of a series that must be read in order, Veronica and Stoker are on their way back from a tiny Alpine kingdom’s royal wedding and looking forward to their usual work categorizing and repairing specimens for their patron, the Earl of Rosemorran, who plans to open a museum.
On the Hunt for a Tasmanian Tiger and a Long-Lost Hathaway
Veronica does adore her detecting adventures, but if she had known what would be the result of this latest case that the head of Special Branch, Sir Hugo Montgomerie, presented them, she might very well have been as cautious as Stoker in approaching cases.
They have been asked to visit a family associated with Sir Hugo to verify that the man who stumbles onto the estate grounds was, in fact, who he claimed to be, the missing oldest son, and not some imposter there for his own nefarious purposes. So to Hathaway House on the atmospheric Dartmoor they go and they meet all the principle family members. Veronica has a past involving Jonathan Hathaway she has kept from Stoker, but the time never seems propitious to tell him.
“I looked up to find Stoker regarding me with an expression of cool detachment…Whatever confession I had intended to make died upon my lips. I could confide many things, but none of them to that face, I decided.” (Loc 2845)
Appearances in the Fog
The moor lives up to its reputation and the troubles at Hathaway House only add to the sensations the moor engenders with its deep bogs, mysterious light orbs in the night, and sinister goings on that culminate in the disappearance of a valuable family jewel and the erstwhile Jonathan Hathaway.
“Adventure beckoned, and although I deplored spending any more time than necessary with –, I could only appreciate the situation in which we now found ourselves. A priceless diamond! A thief in the night! A man returned from the dead! A mortal enemy determined to ensure his destruction! It was all thoroughly satisfactory, I reflected.” (Loc 3047)
Deadly Complications Following a Jewel Heist
They think their part in it all is done. After all, they were only sent to discover if there was an imposter and to access a few specimens the family wished to be rid of for the museum, but the danger is hard on their heels and they find themselves in familiar circumstances when it comes to their cases—in the hands of a dastardly villain—and Veronica reflects,
“Well, here we are again,” I said calmly. “This is usually the point at which you become hysterical.” Stoker stared at me. “I have never become hysterical. I have, upon every occasion, reacted with perfect candor and appropriateness to the situation at hand.” (Loc 3424)
How do they escape the villain’s coils? I refuse to say, but I will share something of Veronica’s determination to make it so.
“I would give them half the earth if it stopped them harming a hair of your head,” I said fiercely. (Loc 3484)
Warmest Regards for a Detecting Duo
I find Veronica and Stoker a winning pair of fictional characters and I love trotting along behind them on their adventures. The author does a bang-up job of painting the Victorian era settings, situations, and dialogue while maintaining the breezy, eccentricities that come with a woman who has grown up under curious circumstances and has circumnavigated the globe on her own and pair her with an aristocrat who betook himself into the life of a sailor and explorer, adventurous scholar, circus performer, and more.
The plot was equally intriguing because it drew up the veil on Veronica’s past, particularly her past when it comes to the time she traveled to exotic locales as a lepidopterist and took her lusty adventures where she willed as well. Her secrets are like the Sword of Damocles waiting to fall in her blossoming relationship with Stoker. But, I had no idea what her secrets would set in motion even in the last paragraph of the book. Ugh, I am still unsettled. More drama? Haven’t they gone through enough, yet? On the bright side, this means we are in for at least one more adventure that is shaping up to go to another part of the world.
And, so, I close feeling impatient for more of the author’s clever characters and wry writing in another historical mystery lush with more than one kind of adventure and worried about where this installment left things. Do treat yourself and acquire the first of this Victorian mystery series if you already have not done so.
4 out of 5 Stars
- An Impossible Impostor: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery (Book 7), by Deanna Raybourn
- Berkley (February 15, 2022)
- Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook (336) pages
- ISBN: 978-0593197295
- Genre: Historical Mystery
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Berkley © 2022; text Sophia Rose © 2022, austenprose.com.
Hello Dear Readers,
Have you read any of the mysteries in the Veronica Speedwell series or by this author?
If you enjoy historical mystery with witty dialogue, engaging plots, and endearing characters, Austenprose highly recommends them.
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Laurel Ann Nattress, editor