3 out of 5: In this historical mystery novel, Liberty Lane must solve the puzzling murder of a famous dancer in order to save her best friend's sanity and his beloved's life. The story unfolds in Victorian London, and the book is filled with realistic period details and even a few cameo appearances by historical figures (including Benjamin Disraeli). In one scene, Liberty describes the contents of a produce basket received by a typical Victorian family from the family's country estate:
Like many families in town, the Talbots had produce sent to them regularly .... I knelt down beside [Mrs. Talbot] and helped as she lifted treasure after treasure from the hamper, unswathing them from snow-white napkins: pork pies ornamented with pastry cutouts of leaves and roses, and glazed so brightly they reflected the light; rich fruitcakes with their tops cracking to show insides packed with raisins and cherries; almond tarts and spiced biscuits. ... Four huge hams wrapped in muslin took up the corners of the hamper. ... [E]ven at this time of year there were still apples, wrinkled but sweet-smelling, and a few pears. A deep bed of straw cradled jars of jam and chutney.Clearly, Peacock has done her research, and this novel's richly imagined setting is what elevates this book over more typical murder mysteries. This book's other advantages include a plucky, likeable protagonist and a well-crafted--and very easy to follow--plot. This isn't highbrow literature, but adult and teenaged fans of mysteries will enjoy A Dangerous Affair.