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For fans of C. S. Harris comes Laura Joh Rowland's fifth Victorian mystery where Sarah must confront her own ghosts--and face her most elusive and deadly adversary yet. Victorian London is a city gripped by belief in the supernatural--but a grisly murder becomes a matter of flesh and blood for intrepid photographer Sarah Bain. London, October 1890. Crime scene photograph For fans of C. S. Harris comes Laura Joh Rowland's fifth Victorian mystery where Sarah must confront her own ghosts--and face her most elusive and deadly adversary yet. Victorian London is a city gripped by belief in the supernatural--but a grisly murder becomes a matter of flesh and blood for intrepid photographer Sarah Bain. London, October 1890. Crime scene photographer Sarah Bain is overjoyed to marry her beloved Detective Sergeant Barrett--but the wedding takes a sinister turn when the body of a stabbing victim is discovered in the crypt of the church. Not every newlywed couple begins their marriage with a murder investigation, but Sarah and Barrett, along with their friends Lord Hugh Staunton and Mick O'Reilly, take the case. The dead man is Charles Firth, whose profession is "spirit photography"-- photographing the ghosts of the deceased. When Sarah develops the photographs he took in the church, she discovers one with a pale, blurred figure attacking the victim. The city's spiritualist community believes the church is haunted and the figure is a ghost. But Sarah is a skeptic, and she and her friends soon learn that the victim had plenty of enemies in the human world--including a scientist who studies supernatural phenomena, his psychic daughter, and an heiress on a campaign to debunk spiritualism and expose fraudulent mediums. In the tunnels beneath a demolished jail, a ghost-hunting expedition ends with a new murder, and new suspects. While Sarah searches for the truth about both crimes, she travels a dark, twisted path into her own family's sordid history. Her long lost father is the prime suspect in a cold-case murder, and her reunion with him proves that even the most determined skeptic can be haunted by ghosts from the past.


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For fans of C. S. Harris comes Laura Joh Rowland's fifth Victorian mystery where Sarah must confront her own ghosts--and face her most elusive and deadly adversary yet. Victorian London is a city gripped by belief in the supernatural--but a grisly murder becomes a matter of flesh and blood for intrepid photographer Sarah Bain. London, October 1890. Crime scene photograph For fans of C. S. Harris comes Laura Joh Rowland's fifth Victorian mystery where Sarah must confront her own ghosts--and face her most elusive and deadly adversary yet. Victorian London is a city gripped by belief in the supernatural--but a grisly murder becomes a matter of flesh and blood for intrepid photographer Sarah Bain. London, October 1890. Crime scene photographer Sarah Bain is overjoyed to marry her beloved Detective Sergeant Barrett--but the wedding takes a sinister turn when the body of a stabbing victim is discovered in the crypt of the church. Not every newlywed couple begins their marriage with a murder investigation, but Sarah and Barrett, along with their friends Lord Hugh Staunton and Mick O'Reilly, take the case. The dead man is Charles Firth, whose profession is "spirit photography"-- photographing the ghosts of the deceased. When Sarah develops the photographs he took in the church, she discovers one with a pale, blurred figure attacking the victim. The city's spiritualist community believes the church is haunted and the figure is a ghost. But Sarah is a skeptic, and she and her friends soon learn that the victim had plenty of enemies in the human world--including a scientist who studies supernatural phenomena, his psychic daughter, and an heiress on a campaign to debunk spiritualism and expose fraudulent mediums. In the tunnels beneath a demolished jail, a ghost-hunting expedition ends with a new murder, and new suspects. While Sarah searches for the truth about both crimes, she travels a dark, twisted path into her own family's sordid history. Her long lost father is the prime suspect in a cold-case murder, and her reunion with him proves that even the most determined skeptic can be haunted by ghosts from the past.

30 review for Portrait of Peril

  1. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I usually love a good Victorian mystery but this was not up there with the best of the ones I have read. The background was all there, the dirty streets, the poverty, the crime, but it was all laid on with too heavy a hand. I also love an action packed story but this one was relentless. The main character, Sarah, reeled from one violent situation to another. It begins with a murder at her wedding and after that she cannot even have a meal without some fight or other nastiness occurring. I must a I usually love a good Victorian mystery but this was not up there with the best of the ones I have read. The background was all there, the dirty streets, the poverty, the crime, but it was all laid on with too heavy a hand. I also love an action packed story but this one was relentless. The main character, Sarah, reeled from one violent situation to another. It begins with a murder at her wedding and after that she cannot even have a meal without some fight or other nastiness occurring. I must admit to not finding much to like about in Sarah's character either. Oh dear, it sounds as if I really disliked the book. In truth it was an okay read, just not a good fit for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Portrait of Peril perplexed me. Let me preface this by saying that I am an avid fan of Laura Joh Rowland and have definitely enjoyed the four preceding books in this Victorian Mystery series. Something was off-kilter for me in this one. It seemed like someone pulled a lever and we were bombarded with incoming missiles from all directions in the wind-up of this storyline. Overkill (Pun intended) It's October of 1890 in London in the aftermath of ol' Jack the Ripper. Sarah Bain and her band of frien Portrait of Peril perplexed me. Let me preface this by saying that I am an avid fan of Laura Joh Rowland and have definitely enjoyed the four preceding books in this Victorian Mystery series. Something was off-kilter for me in this one. It seemed like someone pulled a lever and we were bombarded with incoming missiles from all directions in the wind-up of this storyline. Overkill (Pun intended) It's October of 1890 in London in the aftermath of ol' Jack the Ripper. Sarah Bain and her band of friends/co-workers run a crime photography business and have been employed by the Daily World News. They've been involved in quite the brutal crimes of the past. But today Sarah is finally marrying Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett in a small ceremony in St Peter's Church. As the ceremony ends, a woman dashes into the church screaming that there is a dead body in the church tunnel. Sarah and Thomas leave their guests awe-struck and run to the crime scene. The body belongs to Charles Firth a neighboring photographer. It will soon be revealed that Firth was engaged in spirit photography after they search his shop. But who would have wanted him dead? Rowland introduces interesting historical facts from the time period in which the Victorians were seeking ways to speak with their dead family members. Automatic writing was thought to be instigated by the spirits making contact. But there were large groups that opposed such thinking as nonsense. The novel takes on an eerie flavor and we readers are locked in. As Portrait of Peril is winding down, Rowland seems to slip in too many conflicting incidents to shore up why the murderer is the murderer. Way out of left field. In addition, the backstory of Sarah's missing father is growing a beard in itself. As readers, we grow weary of it. I hope that the next offering will regroup and stick with the winning formula of the original books and bring back a rejuvenated Lord Hugh and Mick. Sometimes too much is just too much. I received a copy of Portrait of Peril through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Crooked Lane Books and to Laura Joh Rowland.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Randi Annie Framnes

    When crime photographer and news reporter Sarah Bain gets married to Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett, the ceremony gets interrupted by a murder. The victim is a photographer specializing in taking scam photos of ghosts. Sarah investigates the technology and tricks used to con grieving people. A Portrait of Peril is book 5 in the Victorian Mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland, published by Crooked Lane Books. The setting is London 1890 and we follow newspaper photographer Sarah Bain, her police h When crime photographer and news reporter Sarah Bain gets married to Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett, the ceremony gets interrupted by a murder. The victim is a photographer specializing in taking scam photos of ghosts. Sarah investigates the technology and tricks used to con grieving people. A Portrait of Peril is book 5 in the Victorian Mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland, published by Crooked Lane Books. The setting is London 1890 and we follow newspaper photographer Sarah Bain, her police husband and her news photography/reporter team as they investigate how some members of the spiritualist community use a combination of new technology and tricks to con grieving people. Sarah and Thomas’ wedding ceremony is interrupted when a scam photographer is found murdered in the church crypt. Later his publisher is found dead too. A member of Sarah’s team is standing over the body with blood on his hands and he ends up in jail charged with the murder. Besides investigating the two murders, Sarah secretly looks into the murder case relating to her own family. Main character is crime photographer and reporter Sarah Bain. She is very self sufficient and has a hard time controlling her temper and struggles with the relationship with her late mother. She seems a complex and believable character who is my favorite of this story. Supporting character is detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett. He seems a bit bland to me, and I struggle to connect with him. But I picked up on his deepest respect/fear for his mother. I wonder what that might mean for his relationship with fiercely independent Sarah. I enjoyed how this story starts where similar reads have ended- with marriage. I found it strange and surprising that Sarah and Thomas didn’t find it terribly disturbing to have their wedding ceremony interrupted by a murder. They seemed to go on with things like on a normal day. The plot contained details of previous stories which made it function as a standalone, but I would have preferred to read the series from the beginning to get to know the characters and follow their development through the series. As I jumped in at book 5, I felt I had missed out on this. My favorite part of the story was descriptions of the living arrangements with Sarah’s group of unlikely friends and co-workers. The least favorite part was descriptions of an autopsy procedure. Anyone who loves historical crime fiction will enjoy this. As will fans of Laura Joh Rowland. Similar authors to explore might be Anna Lee Huber or Erin Lindsey. Thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for this opportunity to share my honest review. All opinions are completely my own. Conclusion: A Portrait of Peril is the interesting and entertaining story about a wedding ceremony interrupted by the murder of a photographer specializing in ghost photos to con grieving relatives.

  4. 5 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Hauntings unbridled! Strangely, I has a secondary comment running though my consciousness when reading this. I was remembering my pleasure when I purchased the Phantom Comic, "Married at Last," when Mr. Walker and Diana Palmer finally tied the knot. Of course there's no prize for guessing what spurred that memory being dredged up from my brain's vault. After a torrid relationship Sara Bain and Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett are no sooner finishing their last I do's in a church in Bethnel Green Hauntings unbridled! Strangely, I has a secondary comment running though my consciousness when reading this. I was remembering my pleasure when I purchased the Phantom Comic, "Married at Last," when Mr. Walker and Diana Palmer finally tied the knot. Of course there's no prize for guessing what spurred that memory being dredged up from my brain's vault. After a torrid relationship Sara Bain and Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett are no sooner finishing their last I do's in a church in Bethnel Green when chaos breaks out. Murder in the crypt! It's fitting that the action takes place in the caverns and crypts under the church, in the hazy fog of the day. All is shades of grey frequently stained by the bizarre. Mediums and criminals mix. A clever title that looks to the interests of the day through a different lens. Sara Bain / Barrett is a complex character. A crime photographer and reporter for the Daily World newspaper, she's loyal, determined, gifted and haunted. Haunted by her childhood, by her father's life, by her mother's hardness. Her father, "Benjamin Bain, had been missing for twenty-four years...The prime suspect in the 1866 murder of a young girl, he’s a fugitive from the law." Sara and her newly found half sister Sally have reunited with him and are trying to prove his innocence. This next episode of Sara's life is no less harrowing than the previous. Relationships are bruised and mended with new understandings. Once again, as one door closes another opens beckoning us on with Sara. I think reading this without reference to former parts of the series reduces an understanding of Sara and her group of 'family', including Lord Hugh Stanton and Mick O'Reilly which impacts the reader’s deeper perspective. I am always on tenterhooks with Sara. She's an unusual character, likeable and yet not, even shocking at times. From the beginning I've had this love/hate relationship with her. Even so, her story is never dull. A Crooked Lane ARC via NetGalley Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change (Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    ABCme

    Set in 1890's London, team Sarah is at it again. This time they're investigating the murder of a spirit photographer. Surrounded by fog, gaslight, dirt and darkness, this is historical fiction as I like it. Portrait of Peril is a highly entertaining Victorian mystery with a twist. Another great installment in an excellent series. Thank you Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC. Set in 1890's London, team Sarah is at it again. This time they're investigating the murder of a spirit photographer. Surrounded by fog, gaslight, dirt and darkness, this is historical fiction as I like it. Portrait of Peril is a highly entertaining Victorian mystery with a twist. Another great installment in an excellent series. Thank you Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elodie

    Portrait of Peril A Victorian Mystery Series #5 Laura Joh Rowland https://www.facebook.com/laurajohrowl... Release Date 01/12/2020 Publisher Crooked Lane Books 𝗕𝗹𝘂𝗿𝗯 For fans of C. S. Harris comes Laura Joh Rowland's fifth Victorian mystery where Sarah must confront her own ghosts--and face her most elusive and deadly adversary yet. Victorian London is a city gripped by belief in the supernatural--but a grisly murder becomes a matter of flesh and blood for intrepid photographer Sarah Bain. London, Octob Portrait of Peril A Victorian Mystery Series #5 Laura Joh Rowland https://www.facebook.com/laurajohrowl... Release Date 01/12/2020 Publisher Crooked Lane Books 𝗕𝗹𝘂𝗿𝗯 For fans of C. S. Harris comes Laura Joh Rowland's fifth Victorian mystery where Sarah must confront her own ghosts--and face her most elusive and deadly adversary yet. Victorian London is a city gripped by belief in the supernatural--but a grisly murder becomes a matter of flesh and blood for intrepid photographer Sarah Bain. London, October 1890. Crime scene photographer Sarah Bain is overjoyed to marry her beloved Detective Sergeant Barrett--but the wedding takes a sinister turn when the body of a stabbing victim is discovered in the crypt of the church. Not every newlywed couple begins their marriage with a murder investigation, but Sarah and Barrett, along with their friends Lord Hugh Staunton and Mick O'Reilly, take the case. The dead man is Charles Firth, whose profession is "spirit photography"-- photographing the ghosts of the deceased. When Sarah develops the photographs he took in the church, she discovers one with a pale, blurred figure attacking the victim. The city's spiritualist community believes the church is haunted and the figure is a ghost. But Sarah is a skeptic, and she and her friends soon learn that the victim had plenty of enemies in the human world--including a scientist who studies supernatural phenomena, his psychic daughter, and an heiress on a campaign to debunk spiritualism and expose fraudulent mediums. In the tunnels beneath a demolished jail, a ghost-hunting expedition ends with a new murder, and new suspects. While Sarah searches for the truth about both crimes, she travels a dark, twisted path into her own family's sordid history. Her long lost father is the prime suspect in a cold-case murder, and her reunion with him proves that even the most determined skeptic can be haunted by ghosts from the past. 𝗠𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄 When everything is crumbling around her, which course will she follows ... As it is my first read in this series, I feared to be a bit lost, but the author offers many insights to catch up with the heroine and her team of friends. Yet while I believed the wedding of the main character was a good time to enter this series, it appears from early reviewers and my own feelings, it was not. Sure the main plot stands alone, but the characters’ arc is not at is best, with the heroine’s team disbanding, her love relationship at stake. All their lives are spiraling down, so not the best moment to get to know them. Sarah is running after more than two rabbits at once. Yet there is no confusion about the many threads linking everything together but it dilutes the main inquiry and put Sarah at-odds, looking after one murder then two, seeking answered about her father, worried for one friend then frightened for the other, doubting her own character and finally questioning her marriage. Yet I liked the vivid and bleak world the author brought to me with the twirl of her pen, Sarah is far from perfect, she makes mistakes after mistakes but she is getting desperate as the claws of evil are closing on her. What I really did not like was Sarah always making a parallel with her mother’s character, a devious one she believes she is reproducing. Every new act she plans, she compares with her mother, always thinking the worst about her own deeds. Like she is haunted, instead of acting on her own free will. Yet after seing the heroes at their lowest, I hope the next installment will bring them up and give them back their aura. So while I would not recommend to begin with this book, the author demonstrates a great talent at knitting and unknitting her characters’ life. The world she describes is lively and full of colors even if they are rather bleak. In all, it is a good read and the cliffhanger at the end leaves hope most everything will be righted in the next installment. 4 stars 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 one detailed lovemaking scene. I have been granted an advance copy by the publisher Crooked Lane Books, here is my true and unbiased opinion. https://www.facebook.com/429830134272...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Shindler

    In 1890 London, crime photographer Sara Bain is getting married to Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett, culminating their love interest developed in the first four books of this series.Startlingly, as the ceremony concludes, a body is discovered in the crypt of the church. Fittingly, Sara and Thomas delay their wedding night to delve into this unexpected crime, as befits their respective professions.Sara in particular is an unconventional personality, foreshadowing the nascent evolution of more li In 1890 London, crime photographer Sara Bain is getting married to Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett, culminating their love interest developed in the first four books of this series.Startlingly, as the ceremony concludes, a body is discovered in the crypt of the church. Fittingly, Sara and Thomas delay their wedding night to delve into this unexpected crime, as befits their respective professions.Sara in particular is an unconventional personality, foreshadowing the nascent evolution of more liberated women. She lives in a house with two housemates, a street orphan Mick and the gay Lord Hugh, who is attended by his butler.Sara has had a conflicted childhood and her domestic arrangement has allowed her to both house her business and enjoy a sense of family that was sorely lacking during her early years.In a sense, the current case provides a respite from the transition from her secure and familiar present to her highly anticipated but unknown plunge into marital bliss. The crypt that houses the victim is rumored to have ghosts.Moreover, the deceased is a “ spirit photographer,” previously known to Sara.He had surreptitiously snuck into the church to photograph ghost spirits.These revelations arouse the curiosity of the public and lead Sara and Thomas to explore the world of spiritualism and the conflicting groups that function within this culture.Along the way, another murder occurs, Mick meets a spot of trouble, Lord Hugh goes missing and Sara also is chasing the “ ghosts” of her missing father, who was convicted of murder twenty four years earlier. I have enjoyed this series. As my précis shows, there are many plot points in this book. I suspect that there may be a few too many plot devices in this work.The strength of the series has been the interrelationships of Sara and her housemates. In this book, Mick and Hugh play less of a role to accommodate the multitude of storylines. The resolution of the mystery, accordingly, appears rushed. Nevertheless, the strengths of the book overcome the structural observations I have noted.The book is also quite atmospheric in depicting late Victorian London.I look forward to the next book in this series.I rounded this review up to 3.5 stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    thereadingowlvina (Elvina Ulrich)

    "Life's big and small events are connected by fragile threads of happenstance." The Story: Set in London 1890, the body of a photographer is discovered in the crypt of a church where Sarah and Barrett are holding their wedding. The victim, Charles Firth, was a photographer who was into "spiritual photography" and someone Sarah knew. When the photographs he took in the church were developed, Sarah discovers a blurred image who seems to be attacking Charles. It was said that the church is h "Life's big and small events are connected by fragile threads of happenstance." The Story: Set in London 1890, the body of a photographer is discovered in the crypt of a church where Sarah and Barrett are holding their wedding. The victim, Charles Firth, was a photographer who was into "spiritual photography" and someone Sarah knew. When the photographs he took in the church were developed, Sarah discovers a blurred image who seems to be attacking Charles. It was said that the church is haunted and a ghost had attacked Charles. This does not sit well with Sarah, and soon Sarah and Barrett find themselves embroiled in one very puzzling case. My thoughts: This fifth installment of Victorian Mystery series did not disappoint at all! I enjoyed it! The plot just gets better every time. I did find that the story here is more complex, more depth and since it is also about Sarah trying to find evidence to prove his father's innocence, there seems to be A LOT going on. But in the end, the author pulled off writing one suspense-filled multilayered mystery. It was fantastic! Victorian London was plagued with spiritualism, occultism and mysticism during the 19th century and it was really interesting to learn how these shaped the people's thinking and beliefs back then. I love it when characters have more depth as a series progresses. As always, I just love how well-developed these characters are. Sarah and Barrett is one endearing couple and I am excited for their new journey of marriagehood. This book can be read as a standalone. The author did not leave readers in the dark but gives enough background stories from the previous books of this series. I really appreciate that! In a nutshell, this was one terrific read and a wonderful addition to this series. If you are looking for a good, solid Victorian mystery, give this a read! Pub. Date: Jan 12, 2021 ***Thank you Crooked Lane Books, author Laura Joh Rowland and NetGalley for this gifted review copy in exchange for an honest review.***

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Reporter and murder investigator, Sarah Bain marries Barrett, her long time companion. Unfortunately they discover murder has happened at the location where they've married. Hugh, still mourning the loss of Tristan, growing up too quickly Mick, and now Sarah's half sister Sally, put their Scooby Gang skills to work to solve the murder. Sarah also makes attempts at clearing her father's name. Another beautifully written novel by Laura Joh Rowland. She never disappoints. This one is set during Hall Reporter and murder investigator, Sarah Bain marries Barrett, her long time companion. Unfortunately they discover murder has happened at the location where they've married. Hugh, still mourning the loss of Tristan, growing up too quickly Mick, and now Sarah's half sister Sally, put their Scooby Gang skills to work to solve the murder. Sarah also makes attempts at clearing her father's name. Another beautifully written novel by Laura Joh Rowland. She never disappoints. This one is set during Halloween, and the theme is 'ghost'. Right up my alley. I think this might be my favorite of the series. It's left on a cliffhanger, so I'll be very excited to have another one hopefully next January. That seems to be the pattern of release. Highly recommend this Victorian murder mystery series as a whole.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mystica

    1890 Victorian London. For Sarah Bain who was very different from the usual woman of the times, it was not a comfortable place to be. She resided with three men for a start, she was a crime photographer as a second and she was getting married to the love of her life. Detective Sergeant Barrett was a good man - but he could not stand up to his mother who disapproved of all of the above. Not a very good start anyway and when a murder happens at the very church where the wedding is being solemnized 1890 Victorian London. For Sarah Bain who was very different from the usual woman of the times, it was not a comfortable place to be. She resided with three men for a start, she was a crime photographer as a second and she was getting married to the love of her life. Detective Sergeant Barrett was a good man - but he could not stand up to his mother who disapproved of all of the above. Not a very good start anyway and when a murder happens at the very church where the wedding is being solemnized and Sarah runs off to start her work and her husband goes off in the middle of the party to attend to his, it does not add for much family harmony anyway. Spirit photography is popular with the Victorians and seances and people who can talk to spirits is all the rage. The dead man is one of these spirit photographers and uncovering who could have murdered him is not easy as there are many who felt cheated by these charlatans who preyed on the weakness of those left behind. Add to the story a deep seated antagonism by Barrett's boss to Sarah who he felt bested him in a previous investigation, and quite a bit of history added to the story this was a good Victorian type of mystery murder. The unconventional lifestyle of Sarah added interest too.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Srivalli Rekha

    3.8 Stars The leading lady, Sarah Bain, a crime scene photographer for Daily World, is getting married to Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett, her beloved. Right after the wedding, the dead body of a ‘spirit’ photographer Charles Firth is found in the crypt. Who committed the crime? Will Sarah and Barrett uncover the mystery? This forms the main plot of the story. Being a series, we also see a strong subplot of Sarah and Sally’s (half-sister) father Benjamin Bain and the crime he is supposed to hav 3.8 Stars The leading lady, Sarah Bain, a crime scene photographer for Daily World, is getting married to Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett, her beloved. Right after the wedding, the dead body of a ‘spirit’ photographer Charles Firth is found in the crypt. Who committed the crime? Will Sarah and Barrett uncover the mystery? This forms the main plot of the story. Being a series, we also see a strong subplot of Sarah and Sally’s (half-sister) father Benjamin Bain and the crime he is supposed to have committed, the murder of a young girl Ellen. Sarah and Sally are determined to prove his innocence even if it means they’ll have to wake up the dead ghosts of the past. Of course, we see only the main plot coming to a conclusion while the subplot moves ahead just enough to keep us interested and eager for the next book. This is the fifth book in the series and my first. Did it affect my reading? No. The references to the previous cases don't bother much. The main plot doesn’t depend on those. We have recurring characters, the homosexual friend Lord Hugh, his faithful valet, and Mick, the 15-year-old orphaned photographer, all of whom are Sarah’s friends and support system. We also have Inspector Reid, the typical villain within the police department who doesn’t like Sarah and Barrett. He waltzes in and out of the story whenever Sarah needs to add another problem to her overflowing list. The main plot has a lot of characters, from spiritualists to professors to models to an heiress, who is determined to expose mediums and fake ghosts. The suspect list grows, and we go from one clue to another, one piece of information to another. Sarah talks, thinks, and rambles (at times) in the present tense (yes, first-person, present-tense narration) about the murder, her mother, her past, and how her life was hard. While I needed to know the details as a new reader, I did find it becoming repetitive towards the end. I’m not sure how the readers of the series would take it, considering they’d have been reading about it in the previous four books. But there’s quite a bit of action in the cold and foggy London streets and houses. It was refreshing to read a story with characters who do not belong to the elite London society. This is definitely more real and grounded. There are predictable scenes between Barrett’s mother, Sarah, and Barrett. Our leading lady is an independent woman with fears and insecurities. There was drama, but nothing over the top. That’s was a plus. I did have an inkling about who the killer(s) would be, so the revelation wasn’t much of a surprise. But I am glad that the writer did not throw in an unexpected twist to give the story an extra punch. It’s good to see the ideas and hints connect well and come out as a proper piece. Overall, this is an engaging read and picks up pace after the first 70 pages or so. I noticed that my reading speed increased in parallel. If you like Victorian mysteries that are set in the middle class and lower-middle-class sections of London and a heroine with spunk, you’ll enjoy this book. I received an ARC copy from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    5 stars This is the fifth book in the Victorian Mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland. I don’t read a ton of historical mysteries but the Victorian era has to be my favorite. I have to say first off that this is a new favorite author for me. I am loving her writing style and characters. They just flow off the page like water into my heart. Sarah is a crime photographer and has just gotten married. Apparently, they thought she should put down her camera and leave the reporting to the boys. Uh, I don’t 5 stars This is the fifth book in the Victorian Mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland. I don’t read a ton of historical mysteries but the Victorian era has to be my favorite. I have to say first off that this is a new favorite author for me. I am loving her writing style and characters. They just flow off the page like water into my heart. Sarah is a crime photographer and has just gotten married. Apparently, they thought she should put down her camera and leave the reporting to the boys. Uh, I don’t think so. I really respect this character for standing up for herself. There is a lot of cool things in this story but the one I liked best was the spirit photography. What a great plot point and a way to ease into the mention of supernatural things. Just loved the concept! Since this is book five, I am looking forward to reading the past four books in this series. What a great find! So excited to delve more into Victorian London. If you like historical cozy mysteries, definitely check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. Hit me up and ask me for recommendations for this genre! I have some great ideas for cool reads! I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    In this fifth installment of the 'A Victorian Mystery' series, photographer Sarah (Bain) Barrett is dealing not only with a new case that ends up hitting close to home, but adjusting to life as a newlywed as well. Laura Joh Rowland has written a worthy sucessor with this book, with her trademark excellent plotting and strong characters. I took points off for the violence and sex scenes (not my thing) but overall a good read! Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to preview this book. In this fifth installment of the 'A Victorian Mystery' series, photographer Sarah (Bain) Barrett is dealing not only with a new case that ends up hitting close to home, but adjusting to life as a newlywed as well. Laura Joh Rowland has written a worthy sucessor with this book, with her trademark excellent plotting and strong characters. I took points off for the violence and sex scenes (not my thing) but overall a good read! Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to preview this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beverley Albright

    I will give this a 2 rating only because it almost was a ghost story. Maybe it was because the book was fifth in a series and I didn't know enough of the back story, but I found the book quite boring. The author gave background, which was good, but he problem was that it was the same thing over and over again. The main character couldn't make up her mind if she wanted to catch the murderers or let them all go lest their crimes coming out would hurt someone else. Nothing happened in the book that d I will give this a 2 rating only because it almost was a ghost story. Maybe it was because the book was fifth in a series and I didn't know enough of the back story, but I found the book quite boring. The author gave background, which was good, but he problem was that it was the same thing over and over again. The main character couldn't make up her mind if she wanted to catch the murderers or let them all go lest their crimes coming out would hurt someone else. Nothing happened in the book that didn't make the lead character think of her father and her past, which got old really quickly for me. I know that story is the continued theme in each of the books, but I found myself not caring about that story or the present story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    This book opens with Sarah and Barrett finally getting married. I thought it started a bit slow and really only picked up speed once I was half way through. I like Sarah’s spunkiness especially towards her new mother in law. It had a good mystery. I enjoyed the story but now I’m ready for the next one. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the early copy

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    Portrait Of Peril is the fifth book in the Victorian Mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland. The wedding of Sarah Bain, newspaper photographer, and Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett is about to begin, and Sarah’s biggest fear is that when the question is there anyone who objects to the marriage, is that her mother-in-law to be will say yes. Sarah was relieved when there was no objection, but the relief is short-lived. Shortly after Sarah and Thomas’ wedding vows are exchanged, there is a scream, and Portrait Of Peril is the fifth book in the Victorian Mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland. The wedding of Sarah Bain, newspaper photographer, and Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett is about to begin, and Sarah’s biggest fear is that when the question is there anyone who objects to the marriage, is that her mother-in-law to be will say yes. Sarah was relieved when there was no objection, but the relief is short-lived. Shortly after Sarah and Thomas’ wedding vows are exchanged, there is a scream, and the person yells that there is a dead body in the crypt. Sarah and Thomas immediately head for the crypt. When they arrive, Sarah is surprised to see the body of Charles Firth. Firth had sold Sarah her first camera when she decided to follow her father’s footsteps and be a photographer. Sarah is surprised to learn that Firth is now a spirit photographer. Thomas begins his investigation of the scene while Sarah photographs the scene. As the investigation into Firth’s death proceeds, Thomas and Sarah will soon be investigating a faction that believes that there is no such thing as ghosts, therefore impossible to photograph them. They are also looking into Firth’s widow and the publisher of the book of spirits that Firth had published. When at an area where ghosts reportedly have been seen, there is another body found. When the body is discovered, Mike, Sarah’s friend, is found holding the used knife. Sarah’s nemesis, Inspector Reed, immediately arrests young Mike. Besides searching for Firth’s killer, Sarah is also dealing with trying information that clears her father from charges of murder when she was in her early teen years. In addition to Mike, she counts on Lord Hugh to help with her photographing and investigations, who has gone missing. The story is well-written and plotted, and I feel that it is historically correct. The characters are well-developed and believable. I would like to call all of them a friend. I will be watching for the next book in this exciting series.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Martin

    This story begins at Sarah Bain's wedding to Thomas Barrett where she's thinking her worst problem is fearing that her new mother-in-law will stand up with objections. She and Sarah have never gotten along since she thinks her son can do much better than Sarah. But finding a dead body is the crypt under the church is a bigger problem and leads to Sarah and Barrett's next mystery. Sarah knows the photographer who is Charles Firth and who was the man who gave Sarah a discount on her first photograp This story begins at Sarah Bain's wedding to Thomas Barrett where she's thinking her worst problem is fearing that her new mother-in-law will stand up with objections. She and Sarah have never gotten along since she thinks her son can do much better than Sarah. But finding a dead body is the crypt under the church is a bigger problem and leads to Sarah and Barrett's next mystery. Sarah knows the photographer who is Charles Firth and who was the man who gave Sarah a discount on her first photographic equipment. She lost track of him and is now surprised that he is big in the field of spirit photography and who has made a good living taking photos of ghosts. The spiritualist movement in big in London. There are scientists who are supposedly using devices to prove the existence of ghosts; their are photographers who are capturing images of the ghosts. And there are people who are campaigning to debunk spiritualism and prove the mediums and photographers are frauds. This gives Sarah a number of suspects to investigate while trying to solve the murder of her old mentor. Of course, Sarah is also trying to prove that her father who is a fugitive from justice who has been accused of rape and murder was in fact innocent. Unfortunately, the actual murderer was her mother's illegitimate son with the assistance of her mother. She gets a number of leads to help her prove this but none of the witnesses want to come forward. Sometimes it's because the revelations will destroy new lives. Other times it's because it will ruin the witnesses' reputations. Sarah is also concerned about her friend Hugh who is on a path to self-destruction after a homosexual relationship ends. Hugh has gone missing and no one can find him. Worry is taking time from her other investigations. Even worse, when a second victim is found, her friend Mick is found standing over the body with bloody hands. Sarah's old enemy Inspector Reid is right on hand to arrest Mick and railroad him into a quick trial. This was an excellent entry into this series. It was filled with great detail about the Victorian period. It also had a lot of action. I liked learning more about Sarah and seeing her battle her own demons.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Portrait of Peril by Laura Joh Rowland is a clever historical mystery. Although this newest release is the fifth novel in the Victorian Mystery series, it can be read as a standalone. Photographer Sarah Bain and Detective Thomas Barrett have just finished exchanging their wedding vows when they become embroiled in another puzzling mystery.  The body of photographer Charles Firth has just been found in the crypt of the church and neither Sarah or Thomas can resist trying to find his killer. Sarah Portrait of Peril by Laura Joh Rowland is a clever historical mystery. Although this newest release is the fifth novel in the Victorian Mystery series, it can be read as a standalone. Photographer Sarah Bain and Detective Thomas Barrett have just finished exchanging their wedding vows when they become embroiled in another puzzling mystery.  The body of photographer Charles Firth has just been found in the crypt of the church and neither Sarah or Thomas can resist trying to find his killer. Sarah is dismayed to discover that Charles, whom she knew as photography store owner, is now a "spirit" photographer.  The case takes another turn once she meets his wife, Leonara and his book publisher Richard Trevelyan. Sarah, her friends Mick O'Reilly and  Lord Hugh Staunton look for answers within the world of spiritualists and a group lead by Jean Ritchie that tries to expose the charlatans who pose as mediums and spiritualists. When another murder occurs and someone Sarah cares for is arrested for the crime, she and Barrett are under pressure to locate the true killer. Sarah's marriage gets off on the wrong foot as her new mother-in-law Mildred continues to express her discontent with her son's new wife. Thomas is caught between the two women as he tries to keep the peace but Sarah is furious and hurt when she finds out a secret he has been keeping. Throwing herself into the newest case takes her mind off her troubles as she tries to figure out who killed Charles. Could it be the man who has just developed a new machine that will hopefully detect a ghostly presence? Or is it Jean or one of her associates who has had unpleasant experiences with Charles' wife Leonora? In between trying to get her marriage on track and solve the latest murder, Sarah and her half-sister Sally Albert continue their efforts to clear their father Benjamin of the years' old murder he is accused of committing. She also worries that her long time nemesis Inspector Reid will find her father and arrest him before she can find new leads that could exonerate him. Sarah knows the identity of the real killer, but she is continuing her search for evidence that will prove Benjamin's innocence. But will the information she uncovers cause her to doubt her father's assertion he is not the killer? Portrait of Peril is a multi-layered mystery with well-developed characters and an intriguing storyline. Sarah continues to grow and evolve as she enters into matrimony with Thomas. Despite his worries about her safety, she has no intentions of giving up her career. Sarah's investigation into Charles' murder leads her down a thrilling and unexpectedly dangerous path. With plenty of twists and turns, Laura Joh Rowland brings this complex mystery to an action-packed conclusion. With an unanticipated turn of events in the final chapter, readers will be impatiently awaiting the next installment in the exciting  Victorian Mystery series.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jean Kolinofsky

    Sarah Bain, a crime photographer for the Daily World, has finally consented to marry Detective Sargent Thomas Barrett. The ceremony has barely concluded when a scream brings the celebration to a temporary halt. A body has been found stabbed in the crypt under the church. Sarah and Barrett send the attendees off to the wedding breakfast while they head to the murder scene. There Sarah recognizes the victim as Charles Finch, the photographer who sold her the camera equipment to open her business. Sarah Bain, a crime photographer for the Daily World, has finally consented to marry Detective Sargent Thomas Barrett. The ceremony has barely concluded when a scream brings the celebration to a temporary halt. A body has been found stabbed in the crypt under the church. Sarah and Barrett send the attendees off to the wedding breakfast while they head to the murder scene. There Sarah recognizes the victim as Charles Finch, the photographer who sold her the camera equipment to open her business. He was in the crypt hoping to photograph a spirit, but this was definitely the act of a human. Firth’s widow points suspicion toward Jean Ritchie and the Ladies Society for Rational Thought. Ritchie was determined to prove that Firth and his spirit photos of lost loved ones were a fraud that took the savings of the bereaved. Denying her involvement, she sends Sarah to Dr. Lodge and the Society for Psychical Studies. Firth was a member, but a number of his fellow members, including Dr. Lodge, wanted him thrown out. When Barrett, Sarah and her co-worker Mick O’Reilly attend an event held by the Society there is another murder. The method is similar to the first murder and all of the suspects were in attendance but the blame falls on Mick. In trying to help the victim, it was Mick who was found with blood on his hands by an inspector who resents Sarah and Barrett. If they are to save him from the gallows they have to solve these murders. As Sarah works to free Mick, she is also working to save her father, who is wanted for murder. The body of a young girl that he had been photographing was found and he escaped from the country. She knows that he is innocent and that her mother and step-brother were responsible. They are now both dead and her father is back in England where he is in danger of arrest. With a new marriage, two investigations and the pressure to save two important men in her life, Sarah is under mounting pressure. Added to that is a mother-in-law who is not fond of her. She believes that Sarah should quit her job and wants the newlyweds to move in with her so that she can teach Sarah to be a proper wife. Laura Joh Rowland has written a strong character in Sarah Bain. She has been forced to rely on herself as she grew up and finds it hard to rely on others. Without a family of her own, she has found a family in her friends Mick and Lord Hugh Staunton. When her relationship with these men is questioned she becomes their greatest supporter. Rowland’s book is an examination of the meaning of family and what one will do to protect the family as well as providing an excellent mystery. I would like to thank NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing this book for my review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Belinda Witzenhausen

    I received a complimentary ARC copy of Portrait of Peril, A Victorian Mystery Book No. 5 by Laura Joh Rowland from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review. ...an entertaining fun read I would highly recommend... I love Rowland's Victorian Mystery series, each are fast-paced, suspenseful whodunits set in Victorian England, and I have been fortunate enough to read and review all of the books in this series. Although I found this book very entertaining, I didn't enjo I received a complimentary ARC copy of Portrait of Peril, A Victorian Mystery Book No. 5 by Laura Joh Rowland from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review. ...an entertaining fun read I would highly recommend... I love Rowland's Victorian Mystery series, each are fast-paced, suspenseful whodunits set in Victorian England, and I have been fortunate enough to read and review all of the books in this series. Although I found this book very entertaining, I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the previous books in this series.   In this story, we join Crime Scene Photographer Sarah Bain and her new husband Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett getting ready to start their lives together as a married couple. They face some expected challenges, Sarah and her new Mother in-law are at odds, they are trying to traverse living together for the first time but when Sarah's mentor is found dead at the church on the day it's hosting their wedding it might just end their marriage before it begins. The victim Charles Firth helped Sarah when she was just starting out. In the years since he's become a fairly well-known spirit photographer with a healthy book publishing contract but not without his critics. Firth is known for his portraits of ghosts and spirits of the dearly departed, often swindling the deceased's loved ones. When a second murder occurs and her dear friend and colleague Mick is arrested for the crime, Sarah, Barrett, and her half-sister Sally, are compelled to find how who the real murderer is and clear his name.   The usual cast of characters are present.... for the most part. Hugh, Sarah and Mick's friend and colleague is taking his break-up from Tristan very poorly, becoming self-destructive with bouts of disappearing, leaving everyone to worry in an already challenging time. Sarah and Sally are also trying to clear their fugitive father's name but not without their nemesis Inspector Reid watching their every move and waiting to pounce.   Although I found this one a bit slow to start and I really didn't find Hugh's story line appealing I really enjoyed the twists, turns which this series is well known for. The book is an entertaining fun read I would highly recommend. It would work as a stand-alone however I really recommend reading the books in order.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gaby

    In Portrait of Peril, Sarah Bain and her housemates Lord Hugh and Mick O'Reilly have returned to working for the Daily World, the newspaper owned and published by Sir Gerald. Sally Albert, Sarah's half sister, is now a reporter at the Daily World as well. But Portrait of Peril opens on the wedding of Sergeant Thomas Barrett and Sarah Bain. Just as the ceremony ends, the celebration is interrupted by calls of murder. As Barrett and his police colleagues rush to the scene, Sarah, Hugh, Mick and Sa In Portrait of Peril, Sarah Bain and her housemates Lord Hugh and Mick O'Reilly have returned to working for the Daily World, the newspaper owned and published by Sir Gerald. Sally Albert, Sarah's half sister, is now a reporter at the Daily World as well. But Portrait of Peril opens on the wedding of Sergeant Thomas Barrett and Sarah Bain. Just as the ceremony ends, the celebration is interrupted by calls of murder. As Barrett and his police colleagues rush to the scene, Sarah, Hugh, Mick and Sally rush over as journalists. Just as Sarah's job and fearlessness caused friction between her and Thomas Barrett, her job leads to conflict with her in-laws as well. Sarah recognizes the victim as Charles Finch, the kindly photographer and photo shop owner, who gave her a deep discount on her first set of equipment. Sarah is determined to help find his killer. Their investigation leads towards a ghostly presence and to the victim's involvement in selling spiritualist photographs and the like. The police investigation and Sarah's investigation lead to seances and meetings with spiritualists and their critics. As the investigations progress, the personal lives of Sarah and her friends deteriorates further. While Sarah and her sister have finally found their father, Benjamin Bain remains a fugitive from the law and their meetings must be clandestine help Benjamin Bain avoid arrest. Benjamin Bain remains the chief suspect in the murder investigation. Sir Gerald's son Tristan has chosen to leave England for Switzerland and Lord Hugh is devastated. He takes to spending days and nights drinking and walking London. Sarah and Barrett have grown closer, preparing for a life together despite the opposition from Barrett's mother. Hugh is often missing and Sally Albert is angered at Sarah's distrust of their father. Sarah learns that the murder may have been committed by her mother not her father. As Sarah investigates, she begins to question her own instincts -- as the daughter of a murder, is she inclined towards violent behavior herself? In Portrait of Peril, I enjoyed learning more about Sarah Bain and Thomas Barrett. Laura Joh Rowland gives us characters that we can care about just as much as she weaves a mystery for the amateur sleuths to solve. #PortraitofPeril #Netgalley #LauraJohRowland #VictorianMysteries

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I’m a huge fan of all things mystery and historical fiction, so I quickly became a fan of Sarah Bain and her edgy and independent character in the fifth instalment of the Victorian Mystery series! Thank you Sarah for not conforming to the bindings of a traditional Victorian lady! Sarah’s nonconformity and desire to act on instinct more times than not tend to lead her into the path of trouble, and the reader onto a path of intense intrigue that keeps you hooked and turning the pages. The focus of s I’m a huge fan of all things mystery and historical fiction, so I quickly became a fan of Sarah Bain and her edgy and independent character in the fifth instalment of the Victorian Mystery series! Thank you Sarah for not conforming to the bindings of a traditional Victorian lady! Sarah’s nonconformity and desire to act on instinct more times than not tend to lead her into the path of trouble, and the reader onto a path of intense intrigue that keeps you hooked and turning the pages. The focus of spiritualism/occult in the late 1800 also kept me engaged. It helped keep me captivated and wondering where the twists and turns would take me as Sarah sought to find out if the two murders were connected in any way. There definitely were plenty of suspects to choose from as I read, and each one had me guessing as to if they were the guilty party right up till the end. I also got to explore the new life Sarah has continued to build for herself and her new husband, Barrett, and I’m looking forward to where their marriage will go and any trials it may see in future instalments of this series, since Sarah seems to feel that she has lost some of her independence upon marriage. What I really enjoyed the most was the reality of the characters, their connections and their lives in foggy London. For once I was not reading a story about the socially privileged and elite of London society. This definitely makes the story even more real and grounded as I followed the action, and there was a lot of action, For those wondering if this can be a standalone book…The plot and storyline contain details of previous instalments which made this story work on its own. However, I do believe that many would prefer to read this series from the beginning, since I’m really a fan of getting to know each character and their emotional makeup along with their connections to each other. Overall, anyone who enjoys historical fiction and crime will enjoy this book and series as it was quite the entertaining and intriguing story. Thank you NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for my advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Randee Green

    Crime scene photographer Sarah Bain is back in the fifth installment of the Victorian Mystery series. Mere minutes after marrying Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett, Sarah’s wedding is interrupted when a dead body is discovered in the church’s crypt. Skipping the wedding celebration, Sarah and Barrett embark on a murder investigation along with Sarah’s friends Lord Hugh Staunton and Mick O'Reilly. The murder victim is a former acquaintance of Sarah’s, and she is dismayed to learn that he has been Crime scene photographer Sarah Bain is back in the fifth installment of the Victorian Mystery series. Mere minutes after marrying Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett, Sarah’s wedding is interrupted when a dead body is discovered in the church’s crypt. Skipping the wedding celebration, Sarah and Barrett embark on a murder investigation along with Sarah’s friends Lord Hugh Staunton and Mick O'Reilly. The murder victim is a former acquaintance of Sarah’s, and she is dismayed to learn that he has been using his photography skills to take advantage of people through “spirit photography” where he superimposes pictures of their departed loved ones to make them appear as ghosts. London’s spiritualist community believes that a ghost is the murderer, but Sarah and crew find that there are plenty of suspects among the living. Following the murder of another member of the spiritualist community, Mick is arrested for both murders. With Mick in jail and Hugh missing, it is up to Sarah and Barrett to find the killer(s) and save their friends. I am a big fan of the Victorian Mystery series. Sarah Bain is a great central character. She does not fit the mold of a traditional/stereotypical Victorian era lady. She is edgy. She is independent. She has her faults—and those faults frequently get her into trouble. PORTRAIT OF PERIL is a great addition to the series. I especially enjoyed the focus on spiritualism and the various beliefs that people had towards it in the late 1800s. The mystery was very captivating—especially after the second murder muddies the water. Are the two murders connected? Maybe they are connected, maybe they are not. There are also plenty of suspects that will keep the reader guessing until the end. The secondary storylines involving Sarah’s new life as a married woman, Hugh’s disappearance, and Sarah’s quest to clear her father’s name from an old murder keep the storyline moving. I am intrigued to see what happens next, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  24. 5 out of 5

    BOOKLOVER10

    It is 1890, and British photographer/reporter/sleuth Sarah Bain, the narrator, is busier than ever. Between chasing down leads and solving crimes, she finds time at last to marry her long-time lover, Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett. Sarah's impulsiveness and aggressive behavior have gotten her into trouble in the past. Furthermore, her success at closing cases has not endeared her to Thomas's colleagues on the police force. A particularly distressing subject for Sarah is what to do about her f It is 1890, and British photographer/reporter/sleuth Sarah Bain, the narrator, is busier than ever. Between chasing down leads and solving crimes, she finds time at last to marry her long-time lover, Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett. Sarah's impulsiveness and aggressive behavior have gotten her into trouble in the past. Furthermore, her success at closing cases has not endeared her to Thomas's colleagues on the police force. A particularly distressing subject for Sarah is what to do about her father, Benjamin Bain. She and her half-sister, Sally, sneak off regularly to visit Benjamin, who is a fugitive from justice. They are eager to clear their father of a murder charge that could send him to the gallows. Laura Joh Rowland's "Portrait of Peril" is one of the weaker novels in this series. Although Sarah can be amusing at times, she is also hotheaded, brusque, and highly irritating. To her credit, she is loyal to her loved ones and fierce in her desire to see that justice is done. On the other hand, she can be hostile and obnoxious to those who argue with her or try to impede her investigations. The mystery involves the slaying of a spirit photographer in a church crypt. One of Sarah's closest friends is implicated, and she badgers witnesses with such subtle questions as, "Did you kill (fill in the name of the victim)?" Another slaying brings the body count to two, and both victims have ties to spiritualism. Some of the possible suspects are members of a group who wish to discredit spiritualists, particularly those who charge bereaved individuals a tidy sum to help them communicate with their dead relatives. Although there are humorous scenes in which Rowland pokes fun at her characters' foibles, the wooden and banal dialogue and overwrought and far-fetched plot weaken the novel considerably. This author has written fine works of historical fiction in the past, but "Portrait of Peril" is unlikely to enhance her literary reputation.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Debbi

    Thank you Netgalley & Crooked Lane Books for an ARC! Portrait of Peril is a fast and fun murder mystery (can a murder mystery be fun?) with an entertaining cast of characters. Photographer Sarah Bain and her new husband Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett find themselves in the middle of a murder case in the very church where they have just been married. The victim is a spirit photographer, who makes his living with fraudulent pictures of ghosts and spirits of the bereaved's loved one. But he also Thank you Netgalley & Crooked Lane Books for an ARC! Portrait of Peril is a fast and fun murder mystery (can a murder mystery be fun?) with an entertaining cast of characters. Photographer Sarah Bain and her new husband Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett find themselves in the middle of a murder case in the very church where they have just been married. The victim is a spirit photographer, who makes his living with fraudulent pictures of ghosts and spirits of the bereaved's loved one. But he also gave Sarah help as a novice photographer and she, along with Sergeant Barrett and her half sister Sally, is compelled to find how who killed him and why. The murder brings the spiritualist and the scientific communities nearly into an all out war...spirits are real and so are their portraits! No they aren't, you are all just frauds, say to warring sides. Was the victim a good guy, or a fraud preying on the vulnerable? Barrett and Bain, along with a gay lord, a streetwise youth, Sarah's half sister and more race against time to find the culprit. As more bodies show up, Sarah finds her own life might be in danger. Add to that the fact that her father is living underground after years abroad, since being accused of the murder of a young woman. Is he really guilty? What was her mother's role in the death? The are lots of twists and turns in this book. It's a fun romp through Victorian London; not as elegantly written as some, but pure entertainment and a fast enjoyable read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    In this fifth book in the late Victorian era, crime photographer Sarah Bain has just married Thomas Barrett, DS at the Met police. Literally just after they say their vows, a body is found at the church. The victim, Charles Firth, sold Sarah her first camera do she feels obligated to look into his murder. Sarah discovers that the murder victim has been taking spirit photography and when a second member of London’s spiritualist society is murdered, it appears the two are connected. Hugh and Mick In this fifth book in the late Victorian era, crime photographer Sarah Bain has just married Thomas Barrett, DS at the Met police. Literally just after they say their vows, a body is found at the church. The victim, Charles Firth, sold Sarah her first camera do she feels obligated to look into his murder. Sarah discovers that the murder victim has been taking spirit photography and when a second member of London’s spiritualist society is murdered, it appears the two are connected. Hugh and Mick are back to help Sarah investigate in this one, and when Mick gets arrested for the murders, Sarah finds it even more important to solve the cases. I’ve liked this series from the beginning, mostly because I like Sarah’s character; she’s an independent woman who often acts on instinct, even if it gets her into trouble more often than not. I like her friendships with Mick and Hugh (and I really hope all the next book starts with a Hugh in a better place than we left him in this one!). I liked seeing Sarah and Barrett settle into marriage and the difficulties Sarah had in particular feeling like she’s lost some of her independence. The continued clash between Sarah and Inspector Reid rears its ugly head in this and while Sarah got sone answers regarding the murder that her father was accused of years ago, the epilogue makes is seem like that’s the focus of the next book and I’m looking forward to it! Thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Walker

    First a confession: Years ago I began a book series with the seventh book in the series and went back for the earlier ones. I picked this book without reading he last two and boy have things changed. Sarah Bain gets married in the first few pages of this book to Detective Sergeant Barrett, well that was a shock. Not so much the murder that happens just after they say "I Will" and it's off to the scene of the crime, which turns out to be Charles Firth, the man who helped Sarah with her first came First a confession: Years ago I began a book series with the seventh book in the series and went back for the earlier ones. I picked this book without reading he last two and boy have things changed. Sarah Bain gets married in the first few pages of this book to Detective Sergeant Barrett, well that was a shock. Not so much the murder that happens just after they say "I Will" and it's off to the scene of the crime, which turns out to be Charles Firth, the man who helped Sarah with her first camera. Charles has been into the fad of 'ghost photography', which was common in the late 19th century, scam or not its very popular and worse of all the murder on church grounds. Sarah, her new husband along with her friends Lord Hugh, Mick and half sister Sally investigate. If that were all That would be interesting enough, but wait. Sarah and Sally's father, whoo has been accused of foul murder has been found hiding from the law. Apparently the sister's have told him they will find the real killer, which is close to them to cause real strife. Along with this problem her mother-in-law is not too fond of her running around solving murders instead of begin a traditional 19th century wife. To top all that there is a second murder with her friend Mick standing over the body covered in blood. Wow what a mess. Once again a top notch mystery from a top notch author. Now I've got to go back to the ones I missed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    The story begins with the wedding of our protagonist Sarah Bain, a newspaper photographer, to Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett. It is interrupted by screams when a charwoman discovers a body in the crypt of the church. Thomas and the police attending the wedding rush off as well as the newspaper folks there. Sarah is among them and recognizes the victim, Charles Firth, as a photographer who had been helpful to her in her past. Mr. Firth is a spirit photographer now and in investigating his deat The story begins with the wedding of our protagonist Sarah Bain, a newspaper photographer, to Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett. It is interrupted by screams when a charwoman discovers a body in the crypt of the church. Thomas and the police attending the wedding rush off as well as the newspaper folks there. Sarah is among them and recognizes the victim, Charles Firth, as a photographer who had been helpful to her in her past. Mr. Firth is a spirit photographer now and in investigating his death, they learn more about the field, those who believe in spirits and those who do not. There are many potential suspects and then another murder occurs. I enjoyed the mystery and I thought the author did a great job of having us travel along with Sarah and Thomas as they attempt to solve the murders. And the ending was thrilling! There is a subplot involving Sarah's father and her attempts to help exonerate her. Sarah is very conflicted, especially as she attempts to resolve her memories with what she learns and the impact her upbringing and family have on her present life. I enjoyed this book but it is the fifth in the series and while I certainly didn't struggle with the mystery, it might have been helpful to read earlier books to understand the characters and their relationships better. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Addie BookCrazyBlogger

    The latest novel in a series, Sarah Bain is a crime scene photographer for a local newspaper in London, in 1890. She’s at her wedding, where she’ll be marrying her longtime love, Detective Sergeant Barrett, when someone runs in to say that there has been a murder in the crypt. The two crime solvers decide to take the case, especially as the victim, a Charles Firth, was a photographer and a brief acquaintance of Sarah’s. As it turns out, Charles was a spiritualist, intent on capturing photographi The latest novel in a series, Sarah Bain is a crime scene photographer for a local newspaper in London, in 1890. She’s at her wedding, where she’ll be marrying her longtime love, Detective Sergeant Barrett, when someone runs in to say that there has been a murder in the crypt. The two crime solvers decide to take the case, especially as the victim, a Charles Firth, was a photographer and a brief acquaintance of Sarah’s. As it turns out, Charles was a spiritualist, intent on capturing photographic evidence of ghosts. Meanwhile, Sarah’s biological father, a fugitive from the law, s currently in hiding as she and her half-sister Sally look for evidence to exonerate him. As both investigations deepen, everything that Sarah knows and loves, will soon face a reckoning. This was a pretty good book and can definitely be read as a stand alone, although the references to past cases made me curious about said books. I thought the pacing was done well and it was an interesting combination of journalist-police procedural. I also appreciated that the novel dives into a little bit of past history, specifically the history of spiritualism. I will say if you’re looking for a book that is true to historical language and facts, you’ll be disappointed, as this novel definitely has modernized language.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Norah Gibbons

    I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Portrait of Peril by Laura Jon Rowland is the fifth book in her Victorian Mystery series. I do think you should read the books in order. This was the first one I’d read and I did feel that I was missing information that would have helped me understand the relationships between the main characters better. This story opens with the wedding of crime scene photographer Sarah Bain and police Sergeant Thomas Barrett, wh I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Portrait of Peril by Laura Jon Rowland is the fifth book in her Victorian Mystery series. I do think you should read the books in order. This was the first one I’d read and I did feel that I was missing information that would have helped me understand the relationships between the main characters better. This story opens with the wedding of crime scene photographer Sarah Bain and police Sergeant Thomas Barrett, which is unfortunately interrupted by the discovery of a murder in the crypt of the church. Trying to solve the murder of the man who sold Sarah her first camera, prove that her missing father is not a murderer while trying to be a good friend, and navigate the changes and expectations the marriage has brought to her relationship with Thomas puts a heavy burden on Sarah. I found the story intriguing and will definitely go back and read the first four. Steam Level: mostly closed-door Publishing Date January 12, 2021 #NetGalley #PortaitOfPeril #LauraJonRowland #VictorianMysterySeries #CrookedLaneBooks #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #HistoricalFiction #MysteryAndThriller

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