Monday, December 12, 2022

Review: Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden

The (misquoted) maxim "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it" takes on new meaning in Karen Odden's Victorian set mystery, Under a Veiled Moon, the second in the Inspector Corravan Mystery series. Although the ethnic group is different (the Irish as versus the groups who are the targeted today), people and media still scapegoat "others" and consider them lesser than. These bigoted beliefs led to resentment and violence in the past, as shown in the novel, and similar bigoted beliefs lead to resentment and violence today. Perhaps one day we will learn.

Michael (Mickey) Corravan is the Acting Superintendent of the Wapping River Police. As the novel opens, he has found a unidentified body but quickly this one, potentially murdered man becomes a side note to a much bigger investigation. There's a collision on the Thames between a daily, wooden, pleasure boat and a heavy iron-clad collier that causes massive loss of life and Corravan must determine whether it was an accident or if it was intentionally caused by the Irish Republican Brotherhood as the newspapers attest. The possibility that the IRB is behind the collision causes a massive swell of anti-Irish sentiment at a time when the Irish were already considered vermin. And Michael Corravan is Irish. His superiors and colleagues want a speedy conclusion to the case and question whether he can investigate impartially given his own heritage and close ties to the community. At the same time, Corravan is worried about the youngest son of the family who took him in after his mother left. Colin Doyle has join the Cobbwallers, another Irish gang, and Corravan wants nothing more than to get Colin out of the gang and keep him safe for Ma Doyle.

The prevailing sentiment about the Irish and the debate about Irish Home Rule weaves through the entire story. Newspapers fan the flames of bigotry, falsifying evidence and printing half-truths, allowing extremists and other bitter and angry people an outlet and mouthpiece for their beliefs. Through it all, Corravan keeps his head, tamps down his own reaction, and doggedly goes about uncovering the actual truth of the collision, finding connections to his loved ones that will fill him with regret and sadness forever. Corravan's backstory before and then with the Doyle family weaves through the investigation but there is obviously more to be unveiled in future books. The plot is quite intricate and Odden does a fantastic job keeping it moving along and tying it all together. The politics of the time, the vitriol toward the Irish, and the quiet machinations of Parliament are front and center and at the root of everything here so readers should be prepared for politics to carry as much weight as the mystery itself. The whole thing is detailed, well researched, and well written. The larger story of Michael Corravan is intriguing and the secondary characters in his work and personal life are appealing. This is a good read for historical mystery readers, with a spot on sense of time and place and a sometimes troubling parallel to life, beliefs, and media today.

For more information about Karen Odden and the book, visit her author page, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, look at the book's Goodreads page, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Laurel Ann from Austenprose and the author for sending me a copy of the book to review.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kristen. Karen is an amazing writer. Wishing you a lovely holiday season.


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