The Woman in the Veil by Laura Joh Rowland
Sent to photograph a murder scene for the newspaper she works for, Sarah Bain is utterly shocked when the victim turns out to be not actually dead. She winds up investigating the case of the amnesiac the media dub ‘Sleeping Beauty’ instead, wanting to help the injured young woman get back to her loved ones. With three different people coming forward claiming to be the next of kin, though, Sarah has her work cut out for her figuring out who’s telling the truth… and why the others are lying.
The author has created a richly detailed world here, with a fascinatingly diverse cast of characters it’s nice to see in a historical novel. With a gay principal side character and several people of color represented, the cast of this book looks much as Victorian London might actually have appeared. The plot is fascinating, if far-fetched, and the only problem I really had is that way too much reference is given to events in previous books of the series, which I haven’t read. If you’re a devotee of the series you’ll already know just what Sarah’s crew had to do with Jack the Ripper, but I was completely bemused by lots of sly hints that didn’t actually ever sum up what had happened. Yes, the plot arc of this book stood on its own, but there are obviously several overarching series plots and with the failure to recap past events, I don’t think it’s a good idea to read this book without having read the earlier books in the series.
That said… I did really enjoy it, and I do want to go back and read the rest of the series, and I absolutely would read more of them, too. So with the caveat of Don’t Start Here, I’m still going to give this five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.