Written by Vivian Conroy
In late Victorian times, when new inventions cause both excitement and terror, a mysterious death at a zoological lecture brings together two unlikely allies in a quest through London’s upper crust and underbelly to unravel the ingenious murder method and killer behind it.
Miss Merula Merriweather is not like other women her age: instead of hunting for a husband at balls and soirees she spends her time in a conservatory hatching exotic creatures. As the Royal Zoological Society won’t accept a woman’s accomplishments, she has her uncle Rupert take credit for her achievements. But at a zoological lecture, the guest of honor dies after contact with one of Merula’s butterflies, and Merula’s uncle is arrested for murder.
In an attempt to safeguard evidence to prove his innocence, Merula almost gets killed but for the timely interference of enigmatic Lord Raven Royston. Viewing natural history as a last resort to regain respectability lost by too many dubious business investments, Raven didn’t expect his first lecture to take a murderous turn. Feeling partially responsible because he encouraged Merula to release the gigantic butterfly from the glass case in which it was kept, Raven suggests they solve the puzzle of Lady Sophia’s sudden death together by looking closer at her relations with estranged friends, long suffering staff and the man groomed to be her heir, so close to her money and yet unable to touch any of it.
With the police looking for them, and every new discovery raising more questions than answers, especially about the murder method which left no traces of foul play on the body, Merula will have to risk her own life to get at the truth and save her uncle from the gallows in The Butterfly Conspiracy, Vivian Conroy’s enchanting series debut.
Adroitly Planned and Skilfully Crafted!
I do enjoy a good historical mystery, and this one makes for excellent reading, true to the Victorian times it’s set in.
Murela Merriweather is not your usual airhead Victorian miss with a head full of fripperies; rather she uses her brain, and at a time when society refused to acknowledge that a woman could possibly even think for herself. A foundling, her uncle assists in aiding her to follow her activities and happily provides cover for her. As they set out for the Royal Zoological Society evening, her uncle is regarded as the brains behind her discoveries. However, tragedy occurs, her uncle is arrested and Merula must flee from the authorities in the hope that she can get to the bottom of things and clear his name.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Vivian Conroy’s Lady Alkemene mystery series and I really hope this is the beginning of another long and fruitful series. This author has been extremely circumspect in maintaining the time period this novel is set in, and for a reader like me who tends to pick up on these small details, it’s like nirvana! At the beginning, this seems like an unsolvable case but the intrepid duo of Merriweather and Royston – an unlikely pairing, perhaps – are not going to give up easily. With dogged determination they unravel the rare clues and keep picking away at the puzzle. With a fully understandable outcome, this is a cracking mystery and one I really got my teeth into. Adroitly planned and skilfully crafted, this is a marvellous enigma and bodes well for an exciting new series. Definitely one I want to follow, and have no hesitation in recommending to lovers of great mysteries.
My thanks to publishers Crooked Lane Books for approving my copy via NetGalley. This is my honest, original and unbiased review.
Tags: historical mystery
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1499 KB
- Print Length: 297 pages
- Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
- Publication Date: 7 August 2018
- Purchase Links: Amazon UK
- Amazon US
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