Review: A Trace of Deceit (Victorian Mystery #2) by Karen Odden

I decided to read the first book in this series before picking this one up. Thinking that as it was a series, I would need to get caught up to speed with the characters before diving into this one.

As there was only one book, I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea just to check it out. Well come to find out, I didn’t really need to read the first book in the series before this one, but I am still glad that I did as it gave readers a nice introduction to one of the main characters in this book, Matthew.

If you love historical mysteries, then I think this would be a great series to check out. I know I have enjoyed both books in the series so far, for different reasons and I hope you will think about checking out this author!

Summary

A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder…

Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago.

As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep (summary from Goodreads)

Review

I have to admit, I liked this book better than the first in this series. This book had a much better mystery in my opinions. The mystery in the first book was just ok for me while this one hit a lot of romantic high notes with the art theft and forgeries. I thought the author did a great job giving the readers a behind the scenes view of the art and collectible world. I loved learning about the auction houses and some of their history.

For me, this one had a lot more history in it than the other book in the series. I learned lots of new things about art and how collectors worked and I enjoyed that probably the most out of this book, though the characters were fun, the history and sensational mystery was my favorite thing about this book.

In the first book, I found Matthew had so much potential so I was glad when he got his own story. But at the same time I thought that maybe Nell would be a repeat character in the series as is the formula for many historical mysteries. But this book takes on the voice of a new heroine in Annabel. At first it was a little disorientating but overall I liked getting to know Annabel and seeing how a little romance developed between her and Matthew.

There were times when I felt like the book needed a little more action or clues spaced out in the plot, as there were a lot of times where the characters were just talking and looking for clues without much really happening. I would have liked to have seen a little more action, but over all it wasn’t boring or slow, just it started off strong and then slowed and then picked up for a few minutes and then slowed and then picked up. While I know that sort of pacing is normal, there were times when it felt a little choppy.

In the end I enjoyed this one much more than the first book and am looking forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Book Info and Rating

Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 17th 2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN 0062796623 (ISBN13: 9780062796622)
Free review copy provided by author/publisher, William Morrow in partnership with HFVBT in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: historical mystery

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Praise for A Trace of Deceit

“Odden’s third effort injects a refreshing level of complexity, both in character development and plotting, into what one typically expects to find in historical cozies. This will appeal to fans of Victorian mysteries, as well as those interested in art history.” -Booklist (starred review)

“Odden keenly evokes the physical as well as cultural milieu of Victorian England, and peoples her setting with fully realized and intriguing characters. This book will delight readers who like their mysteries cloaked in well-researched history.” -Publishers Weekly

“…this thrilling, action-packed story [is] an absolute delight to read.” -Historical Novel Society

“Odden’s literary brushstrokes vividly portray the misogyny and gender bias experienced by women in Victorian society, especially a woman battling to exercise her artistic talent. ” -Washington Independent Review of Books

“Fans of Anne Perry, Deanna Rayborn, and Tasha Alexander will root for Karen Odden’s newest heroine, Annabel Rowe—aspiring painter and now amateur sleuth—investigating the murder of her art forger brother. The novel’s a delightful mix of mystery, history, and romance, served with a delicious helping of lush period detail, while chemistry between Annabel and the investigating Scotland Yard detective add spice to the adventure.” -Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope series

“A darkly thrilling story filled with suspense and secrets, a courageous heroine, an edgy climax, and an atmospheric setting that perfectly captures the underbelly of London’s art world in the Victorian era. A Trace of Deceit is an absolute winner!” -Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar Award winning author

About the Author

Karen Odden received her Ph.D. in English literature from New York University and taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays and chapters to books and journals, including Studies in the Novel, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and Victorian Crime, Madness, and Sensation; she has written introductions for Barnes and Noble editions of books by Dickens and Trollope; and she edited for the academic journal Victorian Literature and Culture. She freely admits she might be more at home in nineteenth-century London than today, especially when she tries to do anything complicated on her iPhone. Her first novel, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller and won the New Mexico-Arizona 2016 Book Award for e-Book Fiction. Her second novel, A Dangerous Duet, about a young pianist who stumbles on a notorious crime ring while playing in a Soho music hall in 1870s London, won the New Mexico-Arizona 2019 Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. A Trace of Deceit is her third novel. She resides in Arizona with her family and a ridiculously cute beagle named Rosy.

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away one paperback copy of A Trace of Deceit! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on October 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.

A Trace of Deceit
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