RogerBW's Blog

Her Royal Spyness, Rhys Bowen 16 July 2018

2007 mystery/thriller, first in its series. In 1932, Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie ("Georgie"), thirty-fourth in line to the throne, is desperate to get away from her brother's frozen castle in Scotland, and unwilling to be married off to Prince Siegfried of Romania, but is without funds of her own, so she travels to London to try to make her own way in life. Things rapidly become excessively complicated.

All right, there's not all that much of a mystery here: a body in a bath, a Most Obvious Suspect, and a Least Obvious Suspect. But while there's a nod to the deductive process, this is mostly a book about people, particularly Georgie herself and her observations on life.

My grandmother was the least attractive of Queen Victoria's daughters, who consequently never managed to snare a Romanov or a Kaiser, for which I am truly grateful and I expect she was too. Instead she was hitched to a dreary Scottish baron who was bribed with a dukedom for taking her off the old queen's hands. In due time she dutifully produced my father, the second duke, before succumbing to the sort of diseases brought on by inbreeding and too much fresh air.

She's the sort of character who has useful friends rather than the sort of character who has a bunch of skills in her own right, but she remains bright and breezy even when the situation is desperate, and that's enjoyable in itself.

"It's certainly not the brightest thing to have done," she said, "but your brother was never noted for his high intellect, was he?"

"Even Binky couldn't be that stupid, surely." I heard the note of uncertainty creep into my voice.

An attempt at a love triangle falls a little flat since it's too clear what's going on, but there's good integration with actual people. There's not much spying in this book, though Queen Mary asks Georgie to take a look at that Simpson woman and see how serious the Prince of Wales really is about her.

Fun, but formulaic; I'd place this around the level of the various Charlotte MacLeod series I've been reading recently. I'll read more, but I'm going to treat these similarly as short palate-cleaners between more serious books. Followed by A Royal Pain.

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