Book Review

A Virtuous Death
By: Christine Trent

Genre: Historical Mystery

Reading time: 4.5 hours

Pages: 266

“He walks a fine line between good and evil, happiness and anguish. This represents the near future, dear lady, so let us see what the cards have to say about the outcome, and the hopes and fears that will influence it.”


Summary: Violet is an undertaker employed by Queen Victoria of England to solve a mystery surrounding the family. After three high born ladies in society die, many feel as though there was foul play involved. The Queen has Mr. Brown allegedly speaking to the spirits and her deceased husband to guide Violet as she tries to track down the murderer.

“Pride is our enemy, Inspector. Don’t let it fog your judgment. It has prevented you from picking up on the obvious.”


Rant: This book was ok. Considering myself a connoisseur of excellent murder mysteries, A Virtuous Death just wasn’t close to being among the great ones I have read.


Let’s start with the characters. Now I thought that a woman undertaker in Victorian times was a wonderful idea and all of the characters had every interesting personalities, quirks, and traits. However, something went wrong. The characters felt flat and not human enough to fall in love with. The emotional aspect of the book was lacking especially when Violet was in grave danger. The author told the reader that she was scared. That doesn’t leave much of an impression if I am being honest. If Violet had “felt her heart racing in her chest”, “felt her palms sweat as the anticipation stole her breath” or “felt the adrenaline spread through her veins as her probable demise lurked in the near future” the reader could relate and understand her on a human level. Having these feelings doesn’t mean that Violet isn’t a strong female character, no doubt she is, it just makes her relatable and as a reader that is the most important aspect.

*           *          *          *          *           *

As far as plot is concerned, it was a very interesting concept. We had several different storylines simultaneously meshing into the ‘big reveal’ at the end. Except somehow it just felt forced. There was enough of the mystery piece. Violet ponders the same questions probably 40 times throughout the novel without ever finding new evidence. Even when the bomb went off at the Queen’s Birthday Party thanks to our boy Merideth, it wasn’t engaging. It didn’t captivate the reader it was more like “oh a bomb just went off.” The unveiling of the murderer was horrible, we got to understand the motives and they were original it just wasn’t fantastic.

“If there was anything she’d learned from the Queen and members of the aristocracy, it was that their lives were just as miserable as those of London’s poor, except no one cared about the misery of the rich.”


Overall, this book was ok. Nothing outstanding but certainly not horrible. 2 out of 5 stars.


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