(Review) A Trace of Deceit by Karen Odden

Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow/an imprint of HarperCollins. December 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Mystery. Detective. Fine art. Victorian.
Pages: 416.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from William Morrow, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers who love detective/mystery stories.
Rating: Very good.

A Trace of Deceit is book 2 in the series. Book 1 is A Dangerous Duet.

Amazon link

Barnes and Noble link

Link for the tour page: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

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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Praise:
“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

Summary:
From the author of A Dangerous Duet comes the next book in her Victorian mystery series, this time following a daring female painter and the Scotland Yard detective who is investigating her brother’s suspicious death.

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.

My Thoughts:
This is the first book I’ve read by Karen Odden. I’m hoping to read other books she’s written in the near future.

Several reason why I love this story!
~I became quickly apart of the story.
~Annabel Rowe is a painter. She has an artist vision. She describes her environment as an artist because she looks at color and shape through an artist’s discerning eyes.
~When Annabel is told about her brother’s death I felt her reaction believable. Her reaction is not over the top in hysterics. Her reaction is not without emotion. Annabel, in being true to her character and personality, shows a remarkable strength in hearing the news. In the days and weeks after his death, I saw her grieving as important. Grieving is hard work. Grieving takes physical and emotional strength. A great part of her character is in how she handled herself during this event. I consider Annabel a person of high character. She is an admirable person.
~I love the unique blend of this story: Victorian, fine art, mystery, detective, family saga, and romance.
~The romance is gentle and real. I love how the couple grew close as partners and friends.

There is a sad memory that is reflected on but is not developed for the larger part of this story. It is something that happened in the past. I am glad people can read about this character’s sad story of abuse and understand how it affects life. This particular type of abuse causes a soul wound.

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.

Direct link to the giveaway.

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