The Violet Veil mysteries : A case of grave danger by Sophie Cleverly

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This is a novel that will grab readers who enjoy a murder mystery with ghoulish references.

Everything about Violet Veil revolves around death and the graveyard. Her family are undertakers and Violet herself was born in the cemetery. She is fascinated by the family business, but as a girl in Victorian England, she knows that the apprenticeship will be passed onto her younger brother. Violet is constrained by the values of her time, and she rebels against them. It will be her courage and determination that eventually saves her family.

There have been some strange, unexplained deaths that have passed through the funeral parlour and perhaps the most bizarre is Oliver, the young man who seemingly rises from his coffin to wander the graveyard. He had recovered from a violent blow to the head and as he can't remember anything from his past, he stays to help work in the family business.

Violet befriends Oliver and they team up to try to solve the mysteries of the unexplained deaths, Oliver's past and the secretive veiled woman who seems to be a part of the unfolding story. The biggest blow for the family is when Violet's father is arrested for murder and jailed. This is when Violet's bravery and excellent problem solving skills come into force and with Oliver's help she sets out to find the real murderer.

Gothic imagery runs throughout this novel. The family funeral business, their graveyard home, Violet's black clothing and the grimy, frightening Victorian streets create a strong visual image. Violet has a skinny greyhound aptly named Bones and Violet herself has the skill to listen to the dead as she can hear their thoughts and sense an echo of their past lives. She is not constricted by adult views or demands and has a strong sense of right and wrong which drives her on to unravel the mysteries of her father’s imprisonment and the unsolved murders.

Sophie Cleverly is well known for her previous detective series, Scarlet and Ivy, and fans of hers will certainly enjoy this new novel. I look forward to other books in this series and I feel this story will have wide appeal amongst readers 9 years and older.

Themes: Undertakers, Apprentices, Mystery and suspense.

Jane Moore