Review of THE WOMAN IN THE VEIL by Laura Joh Rowland


THE WOMAN IN THE VEIL is the fourth novel in the Victorian Mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland. The novel will be published January 7th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books.

Sarah Bain and her two colleagues, Lord Hugh Staunton and Mick O'Reilly, are crime scene photographers for London’s Daily World newspaper in the late 1800s. On the side, they also dabble in solving murders and other sensational crimes. On a summer night, they are called to photograph the body of a nude woman who was found on the bank of the Thames. In the process of photographing the scene, Sarah discovers that the woman is still alive. The “Sleeping Beauty” case quickly becomes a sensation. With the backing of the newspaper owner, Sarah tries to uncover the woman’s identity and figure out who attempted to murder her. Multiple people are trying to claim Sleeping Beauty as their relative, and they refuse to give up their pursuit even after the woman claims to remember who she is. Sarah is one of the few people who believes that Sleeping Beauty is who she claims to be, but, the deeper she digs, the more she begins to doubt that the woman is telling the truth.

THE WOMAN IN THE VEIL is the first novel I’ve read by Laura Joh Rowland. There were hints at what happened in the previous three novels – enough to tantalize but not enough to give the plot away. Because I did enjoy reading THE WOMAN IN THE VEIL, I plan to go back and read the first three novels in the series.

The plot of the novel was very interesting, and there were a lot of twists that kept me guessing. I did figure out a few of the mysteries before the big reveal, but there was a surprise in the end that seemed to come out of left field. Overall, there is a lot of deception, lies, and backstabbing that take place throughout the novel. It is very gritty and shows a darker side of London than a lot of mysteries set in a similar time period.

There were really only two things I didn’t care for. The novel is told from Sarah’s first-person perspective, and it is done so in the present tense. The present tense threw me off at first, and it occasionally got annoying throughout the novel. But, as I got caught up in the scenes, it bothered me less. The other thing that I didn’t care for was the big confrontation with the bad guy(s) at the end. There are way too many people involved in the scene and they are running around all over the place. I assumed it was supposed to be a dramatic scene, but it came off as ridiculous and chaotic.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.