Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Royal Pain-Rhys Bowen

A Royal Pain
Rhys Bowen
Berkley, Jul 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9780425221631

In 1934 England like the United States is reeling from the world wide Great Depression that even impacts the aristocracy. Lady Georgiana, thirty-fourth in line for the crown has seen her allowance cut off by her brother Binky. She is staying in the family’s London townhouse without any servants. The Queen worries about her son and his infatuation with Wallis Simpson so she conspires with Lady Georgie to find him someone else to interest the heir.

The Princess of Bavaria Maria Theresa Hannelore Wilhelmina Mathilda (try signing that on your check) comes to England to stay with Georgie. The Princess learned her English from American gangster movies so sounds like Capone’s moll and steals like a thug instead of a royal. Working incognito as a maid to bring in some quid, Georgie meets a member of the Socialist Party, who is murdered in the bookstore where he worked. Hannelore and Georgie find him Soon after at party; a guest is slipped a mickey and falls off a balcony whose rail was tampered so it was weakened. Finally the Princess’ chaperone aunt dies of a heart attack. Afraid that Hannelore is the target and her homicide would mean another great war to end all wars, the queen orders peace loving Georgie to investigate; expense being no problem as long as Georgie funds it.

Talented Rhys Bowen always provides the audience with a sense of time and place with strong characters populating her historical mysteries. Her latest is amusing yet serious as fans will admire the courageous heroine who thinks “The world would see a new Georgy girl” if she had money, which means extorting from Binky the cheap. Fans will relish this fine tale starring a noble who may be dreaming of being someone of affluence, but accepts reality.

Harriet Klausner