A Trace of Deceit is the third Victorian mystery by Karen Odden, who has taught at the University of Michigan. It is a suspenseful, compelling novel set in London’s art world in 1875. The protagonist, a talented young painter named Annabel Rowe, is one of the few female students at the Slade School of Art, one of the only art schools to admit women at the time. When she goes to visit her brother Edwin, she finds the police in his rooms, searching through his belongings. Of course, Edwin has been murdered, and Annabel, while shocked, is not wholly surprised. Edwin, a brilliant young artist, has led a dissolute life of gambling and drug use, and had recently been released from prison, where he spent time for forgery. Annabel and Edwin were close as children, but had grown apart after Edwin left for boarding school, and he had hoped to rebuild his relationship with her. Annabel wants to believe Edwin had reformed, but she is not always so sure, and she blames him for their parents’ deaths, because they died of a fever they supposedly caught from Edwin after one of his visits to an opium den.
This review comes to us courtesy of long time Aunt Agatha’s book club member and friend, Vicki Kondelik. This novel will be published on December 31, 2019 and is available for pre-order.
And Dangerous to Know is the third in a series by Darcie Wilde (a pseudonym for Sarah Zettel) set in Regency England and featuring Rosalind Thorne, a gentlewoman living in reduced circumstances after her father abandoned his family because he was heavily in debt. I have not read the previous two, but this book made me want to go back and read them. It stands on its own very well, and I was able to gather all the information I needed about Rosalind’s background.