Blog Tour,  Book Reviews

A Trace of Deceit

Smoke swirling around the darkened doorstep creating mysterious shadows. A carriage racing down the uneven cobblestone street creating a sense of urgency. The distant echoing of the lamplighter’s steps fading into eerie silence. A sudden and unexplained murder. Yes, please!

After reading Diane Freeman’s newest novel (and thoroughly enjoying it), I thought maybe I needed to start exploring the world of Victorian mystery. I opened up my email and saw a message asking if I would like to review A Trace of Deceit by Karen Odden. It was an offer too tempting to resist.

I am now officially a Victorian mystery lover! A Trace of Deceit is itself a painting magically created with words that blend together like colors on a canvas working in harmony to bring the scene to life. The visual world created within its pages creates a vivid movie inside of the reader’s mind. Every detail is clearly described so that the reader truly feels they are peering through a looking glass into the character’s lives.

One of the unique aspects of this book is how you secretly feel as though you are learning about art, while enjoying the story. The way that Karen weaves art history and historical detail into the plot -all while building a complex mystery is masterful. I truly believe this book along with providing a great story, this book has changed the way that I will look at art.

I can not recommend this book enough. If you enjoy mysteries, history, or art, add this book to your must-read pile. Before I was even finished with the book, I was texting my friends to grab it. Plus, I added Karen’s first two books to my online cart.


Publication Date: December 17, 2019
William Morrow
Paperback & eBook; 416 pages

Genre: Historical Mystery/Victorian

From the author of A Dangerous Duet comes the next book in her Victorian mystery series, this time following a daring female painter and the Scotland Yard detective who is investigating her brother’s suspicious death.

A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder…

Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago.

As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep.


Praise for A Trace of Deceit

“Odden’s third effort injects a refreshing level of complexity, both in character development and plotting, into what one typically expects to find in historical cozies. This will appeal to fans of Victorian mysteries, as well as those interested in art history.” -Booklist (starred review)

“Odden keenly evokes the physical as well as cultural milieu of Victorian England, and peoples her setting with fully realized and intriguing characters. This book will delight readers who like their mysteries cloaked in well-researched history.” -Publishers Weekly

“…this thrilling, action-packed story [is] an absolute delight to read.” -Historical Novel Society

“Odden’s literary brushstrokes vividly portray the misogyny and gender bias experienced by women in Victorian society, especially a woman battling to exercise her artistic talent. ” -Washington Independent Review of Books

“Fans of Anne Perry, Deanna Rayborn, and Tasha Alexander will root for Karen Odden’s newest heroine, Annabel Rowe—aspiring painter and now amateur sleuth—investigating the murder of her art forger brother. The novel’s a delightful mix of mystery, history, and romance, served with a delicious helping of lush period detail, while chemistry between Annabel and the investigating Scotland Yard detective add spice to the adventure.” -Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope series

“A darkly thrilling story filled with suspense and secrets, a courageous heroine, an edgy climax, and an atmospheric setting that perfectly captures the underbelly of London’s art world in the Victorian era. A Trace of Deceit is an absolute winner!” -Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar Award winning author

About the Author

Karen Odden received her Ph.D. in English literature from New York University and taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays and chapters to books and journals, including Studies in the Novel, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and Victorian Crime, Madness, and Sensation; she has written introductions for Barnes and Noble editions of books by Dickens and Trollope; and she edited for the academic journal Victorian Literature and Culture. She freely admits she might be more at home in nineteenth-century London than today, especially when she tries to do anything complicated on her iPhone. Her first novel, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller and won the New Mexico-Arizona 2016 Book Award for e-Book Fiction. Her second novel, A Dangerous Duet, about a young pianist who stumbles on a notorious crime ring while playing in a Soho music hall in 1870s London, won the New Mexico-Arizona 2019 Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. A Trace of Deceit is her third novel. She resides in Arizona with her family and a ridiculously cute beagle named Rosy.


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 7
Review at Books and Backroads
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Tuesday, September 8
Feature at I’m All About Books

Wednesday, September 9
Review at Hallie Reads

Thursday, September 10
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, September 11
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, September 14
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, September 15
Review at Faery Tales Are Real

Wednesday, September 16
Review at Into the Hall of Books

Thursday, September 17
Review at Novels Alive

Friday, September 18
Review at A Darn Good Read

Saturday, September 19
Review at Nursebookie

Monday, September 21
Review at Books and Zebras

Tuesday, September 22
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, September 24
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Friday, September 25
Review at The Lit Bitch

Monday, September 28
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Tuesday, September 29
Review at Impressions In Ink
Review at Writing the Renaissance

Wednesday, September 30
Review at Probably at the Library
Guest Post at Writing the Renaissance

Thursday, October 1
Excerpt at Books In Their Natural Habitat
Review at History from a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, October 2
Review at Jessica Belmont
Review at Jorie Loves A Story
Review at View from the Birdhouse


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away one paperback copy of A Trace of Deceit! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on October 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Thank you to Amy from HFVBT for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour. A big thank you to Karen Odden for sending me your beautiful book and for late-night Instagram chats.

Melissa has been in love with books since she was a child. As a young girl, in her Holly Hobby decorated room, she would sit and tape scraps of paper to her books so that she could organize them by the Dewey Decimal System. She is a huge advocate for helping children learn to love reading. Along with hosting an online Regency based book club and a book club at her home, she started a book club for kids at her son’s school. These days, Melissa can be found at the library writing a book review or tucked in some quiet corner having a love affair with a newly discovered romance novel.


  • Lucy Marin

    Intriguing! I haven’t read any Victorian mysteries, but I will definitely check out Karen Odden. Thanks for the review!


      Thank you for taking the time to read my review! I have your books in my TBR pile. Have a great week.

  • Karen Odden

    I too love this cover–it glows! So … here’s some inside scoop on it. I have no skill in this direction AT ALL. Everything I know about art is from my work at Christie’s, reading, and interviewing two friends who are professional artists. But when the cover was first presented to me, there was a blah boring reddish painting in the upper right hand corner. I said, Hey, let’s swap that out for a painting by Francois Boucher, of Madame de Pompadour, because that’s the painting stolen from Edwin’s room. So, voila! The designer is Yeon Kim, who works in-house for Harper Collins. So talented, right?!!


      What an amazing cover artist! Great job! I love finding out about the process behind books as much as I enjoy reading the story.

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