Cover Image: Portrait of Peril

Portrait of Peril

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Member Reviews

I would like to thank NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book. 

Unfortunately, I really didn't enjoy this one. I actually tried to read the 1st in the series, 
The Ripper's Shadow, in order to have a better understanding of the characters and the premises as this one was the 5th installment. 
I really disliked Sarah's character, her entitlement, the way she would go around in others' business, her immaturity, and her lack of rational thinking. She was a character that wasn't a bit realistic nor conformed to the era she was living in. I just really disliked this book and I don't think I will be continuing with the rest of the books.
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As Portrait of Peril begins, crime photographer Sarah Bain is marrying Detective Sergeant Barrett, with whom I assume she has been developing a relationship in the previous books. (I wasn’t aware that this was the fifth in a series.) Just as they and their guests are sitting down to eat, they receive news of a murder in the church, the victim of which turns out to be Charles Firth, a fellow photographer who was also a mentor to Sarah. As they discover, he had been in the church the night before attempting to photograph a ghost that was alleged to be haunting the church, and the image in his camera, when developed, shows a blurry figure that sparks rumors that the ghost killed him.

Sarah and Barrett, along with her surrogate family members Mick, a former street urchin, and Lord Hugh, an aristocrat who has been disowned by his family due to his homosexuality, set out to find the killer. Along the way they find themselves entering the seedy but lucrative world of “spirit photography,” as well as that of its detractors, and facing the arrest of one of their number after a second murder occurs, adding urgency to their quest. Sarah also must navigate a tense relationship with her new mother-in-law, who disapproves of her continuing with her career, as well as attempting to exonerate her father, who has been on the run after being falsely accused of a crime that occurred when she was a child.

I’m not sure if it the fact that I started in the middle of the series or not, but I found myself unable to warm up to the characters in this book or have much interest in the mystery. I was a bit disappointed because I have often seen Ms. Rowland’s books before and know that she is a popular and prolific author, although the book was well written and I would consider trying another one. This one, despite a lot of action (maybe a bit too much), did not do it for me. 2.5 stars.

I received a copy of Portrait of Peril for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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*received for free from netgalley for honest review* Liked the story but it was very longer and i didnt care for all the characters but i feel if i had read the other books in this series first that may change
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I ended up DNFing this book pretty quickly, the main reason being is that I didn't know this book was the 5th in the series until I began reading it. I won't say I woudn't be willing to read this entire series at some point as the premise is promising and what I read wasn't badly written, I just can't commit to a 5 book series read at the moment. Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.
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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.
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portrait of peril is a disheartening story about a photographer in the woods. he wanted more for himself and he just couldn't get itl skip this one.
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I love this series and I think this is an excellent addition.
An atmospheric and solid historical mystery that kept me guessing and hooked till the end.
Well researched and vivid historical background, great characters and atmosphere.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Newly married newspaper reporter, Sarah and her policeman husband, Barrett, find themselves solving two murders revolving around the Victorian rage of seances and ghost sightings. Sarah and Barrett are up to the task, but it becomes personal when one of their friends, Mick, is accused of one of the murders. Along with this Sarah is trying to help her father, now on the run, prove he was not responsible for a rape and murder 24 years ago. The fifth book in the Victorian Mystery series lives up to the expectations of its many fans.
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I received a copy of the book from Netgalley to review. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
I really enjoyed this book with its whip smart and fierce heroine. The writing is spooky and good. There is plenty of drama and action. The characters are different and interesting. This book is a real page turner. 
I would recommend this great book to anyone who likes a good mystery. A good read.
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I have enjoyed this series and I loved this fast paced installment.  The suspense was there as well as a little spookiness with the paranormal. The writing is very atmospheric and I felt transported to Sarah’s world.   Readers who love Victorian mysteries will love this. 
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Do ghost exist? Don't they? What about ghosts of our pasts and skeletons in the wardrobes? Well, all of us have them. Some of them do our best and our worst to hide them.
Portrait of Peril 5th installment in the series by Laura Joh Rowland set in Victorian London. I've read and reviewed 3rd book and the series. And I absolutely loved it. I liked Sarah Bain and wanted her to be my friend. In the 5th adventure Sarah gets married, gets to help her family and gets to lose against her arch frenemy... all in one book.
Portrait of Peril is about just what I said in the beginning: ghost and skeletons, secrets and cover ups, evil and more evil... When evil is done to evil, does it make it good? Doesn't it.
The book ponders these questions and many more. Suspense is plentiful, even though it is lacking in some points. There are quite a few pondering and philosophical musings on Sarah's part. And I found them a bit too much and boring (thus, 4 stars only).
Now I really need to read first installments in the series to find out the origins of Sarah's problems.. I will find the time.
Will I read on? Most likely.
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This was a fun, entertaining historical mystery. I loved that this was set in the late 1800's. I enjoy the atmosphere fo that time period, and I liked that the main character was a crime scene photographer during that time. I was easily able to get caught up in the story and the mystery of the murder. I enjoyed the characters and their relationship. This is book 5 in a series, and I haven't read the previous ones. I don't think that it detracted from the story. I was able to easily jump in.

I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.
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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.
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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.)
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This series is one of my favorites. In this, the 5th in the series finds Sarah finally marrying Thomas Barrett and that should be a very happy day. Not long after the 'I Do's" murder joins the festivities and Sarah starts her married life investigating the murder, Add to that, the victim turns out to be a photographer who helped Sarah get her start as a professional photographer. His name was Charles Firth and he was making his living as a spirit photographer. Some believe and some say it's a scam. I found that theme to be fascinating.
There is a lot going on besides tracking down the killer. Sarah is still dealing with the issue of her father and the murder he supposedly committed. It comes to the party, too. Aided by her husband, her half sister and others they keep up a fast pace as they follow the clues to the solution.
The Victorian setting of London in 1890 lends itself to a grittier historical mystery. It's well crafted with an excellent pace and a complex puzzle. I'm already reserving a spot on my TBR list for the next in the series.
My thanks to the publisher, Crooked Lane and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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