” There was no suggestion of any kind of evening jollity tonight. I went up to bed almost immediately after coffee. I was feeling completely exhausted, I suspect by the shock of two alarming events in one day. I lay there, listening to the sigh of the wind while I tried to blot images from my mind—the world swinging crazily as I hung upside down, and then Babe, lying in the midst of all that blood and water with the lavatory cistern broken around her and her little white bottom exposed for all to see. Someone was at loose in our midst who had evil, if not murder, on his mind. ” (Ch.21, p.179)
[A Royal Spyness Series #3] The third installment of the series finds Lady Georgiana, thirty-fourth in line for the throne, in an impecunious state again as the London social season is winding down for summer. Her house-initiation business fizzles as stifling heat takes hold of London, sending aristocratic families to their summer homes in the country. A gaffe in an attempt to be dinner-and-theatre companion puts her in disgrace. To avoid further scandal, she returns to her brother’s castle in Scotland, where she is required to keep the entirely unsuitable Mrs. Simpson from seducing the Prince of Wales.
Too many worrying thoughts were buzzing around my head. These thoughts ranged from Sir Jeremy’s mandate to Binky’s trap to Darcy and the mysterious dark woman. What was I supposed to do above any of the above? And why was I supposed to step in and rescue other people when nobody seemed to show any interest in me whatsoever? (Ch.14, p.120)
But deep in Belmoral evil is brewing. Scotland Yard has warned Georgiana and recruits her to monitor the confluence of guests of the shooting party at the royal summer home. This third entry is captivating and sprinkled with red-herrings, but not as twisty as the last, A Royal Pain. Quirky characters abound in Royal Flush: An ambitious aviatrix, a speedboat racer, a gossip chappy, and a group of demanding, obnoxious Americans, friends of Mrs. Simpson, who obviously have outstayed their welcome at Castle Rannoch and the odious sister-in-law of Georgie, Fig. While Georgiana would find a way to end that affair between Mrs. Simpson and the Prince of Wales, a series of accidents at the castle also requires her attention. A boulder comes rolling down the hill. A wheel comes off a carriage. The prince’s polo pony tampered with. A lavatory tank comes crashing on a guest. A mountain-climbing rope snapped midair. Are these coincidence?
Bowen really captures England’s complicated era when an economic depression was between the world wars. Georgiana makes a superb sleuth, and that real people like Wallis Simpson and the Prince of Wales walk across these pages enhances the book. This is an insightful blend of old-fashioned whodunnit, clever satire, and drawing room comedy of errors. Light and fluffy, perfect for an afternoon with no specific agenda.
309 pp. Berkeley Prime Crime. Pocket Paper. [Read/
Skim/ Toss] [ Buy/Borrow]