Secrets, Danger, and More Than ‘A Trace of Deceit’ Abound in Victorian England [REVIEW]

Painter's tools

When a talented art restorer is found dead, his sister will stop at nothing to discover who did it in Karen Odden’s new Victorian mystery, A Trace of Deceit. (Photo courtesy Canva).

A murdered artist. A missing painting. An auction house in crisis. Scotland Yard may be on the case, but so is the victim’s sister! Together, will they be able to hunt down a killer and solve the mystery or will the truth prove as elusive as the absent portrait? Find out in Karen Odden’s new Victorian mystery, A Trace of Deceit.


William Morrow

Annabelle Rowe is a young art student at the Slade School of Art in Victorian London. Her only living relative is her brother, Edwin. Or at least he was. She discovers otherwise when she shows up at his flat to find two plainclothes detectives from Scotland Yard looking through his things, searching for clues. Inspector Matthew Hallam is the first to drop the bomb about her sibling’s untimely death the day before.

Of course, the news of Edwin’s death rattles Annabel, but it isn’t entirely shocking. After all, he only recently got out of jail after forging art and upsetting the wrong kinds of people as a drug addict and chronic gambler. Still, after his release, he swears off all his former vices and actually makes time to dine with his sister every other week. And under the direction of Felix, an old family friend, Edwin has even been using his artistic abilities for good, restoring art for auction houses, including an expensive French painting due to go on sale next week. 

Despite his recent turnaround, however, Annabelle spent years blaming Edwin for their parents’ deaths, so she isn’t altogether convinced that Edwin’s own death wasn’t his own fault. She initially wonders if he’d been up to his old tricks. But she soon learns that the painting he’s been cleaning is missing, that its origins are sketchy and that it was, in fact, presumed destroyed in a warehouse fire by its previous owner years before. Coupled with his own violent death, the facts all lead her to now believe that if she can find the painting, she’ll find the killer.

To get at the truth, Annabel and Matthew must work closely together to solve the crime. Yet even as they do so, their pursuit leads them down a vicious path of deceit that leads them beyond the city’s posh auction houses and into the seedy underbelly where politics and corruption abound, and someone will do anything necessary to keep their secrets safe.

With A Trace of Deceit, author Karen Odden leads us into an alluring world readers will love. From the very first page, we discover Victorian London is a baffling place, simultaneously filled with brutality, vice, elegance and style. It is a world where women are seldom given the same privileges as their male counterparts, one where they must fight for everything they truly desire, all without losing their composure and refined sensibilities. That is what makes Annabel such an appealing leading lady, for she is intelligent and shrewd, resourceful, and determined to discover the truth. She also has little else to lose, and therefore her tenacity is fierce and readers will be eager to cheer her on as she combs through England with the handsome investigator at her side.

This is a book that will keep you riveted, turning pages late into the night. The ending also comes as a complete surprise, so have fun trying to crack the case! I was often reminded of the books of Anne Perry, and even of the late Victoria Holt, as we are led down back alleys, through grand parlors, and toward clandestine meetings with individuals who more than likely have something to hide, including their own secret agendas. Rife with riddles and peppered with a dash of romance to boot, this makes for a truly delicious read which will leave you anxiously awaiting the next volume in Odden’s thoroughly engaging series.

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Karen Odden

Karen Odden


Karen Odden is the author of A Dangerous Duet and the USA Today bestseller, A Lady in the Smoke, which also won the New Mexico-Arizona 2017 Book Award for e-Book Fiction.

She formerly served as an assistant editor for the academic journal Victorian Literature and Culture and has contributed essays and chapters to books and journals including Studies in the Novel, Journal of Victorian Literature, and Victorian Crime, Madness, and Sensation. She has also written introductions for Barnes and Noble editions of books by Dickens and Trollope.

Odden received her PhD in English literature from New York University and has taught at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee and the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor.

She currently resides in Arizona with her husband, two teenage children, and a ridiculously cute beagle named Rosy.

To find out more, visit the author at You may also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

By Karen Odden
416 pp. William Morrow. $16.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase A Trace of Deceit at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, HarperCollins, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

A Trace of Deceit is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

4 Responses to Secrets, Danger, and More Than ‘A Trace of Deceit’ Abound in Victorian England [REVIEW]

  1. Sara Strand says:

    I mean, who doesn’t need a book that keeps them up long after bedtime??? Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

    • Karen Odden says:

      I cannot even tell you how thrilled I am to be compared to Anne Perry and Victoria Holt. I grew up reading Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart … adored them both! Thanks for this lovely review!

  2. Pingback: Karen Odden, author of A Trace of Deceit, on tour December 2019 | TLC Book Tours

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