Author: Rhys Bowen
This week is the newest of the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen. You can read the reviews I have done of the previous books: #7 Heirs and Graces (click here), #6 The Twelve Clues of Christmas (click here,) #5 Naughty in Nice (click here,) #4 Royal Blood (click here,) and I was tickled to get an author interview with Ms. Bowen (click here.)
Copyright: August 2014 (Berkley) 304 pgs
Series: 8th in Royal Spyness Mystery series
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Mystery
Main Character: 22 year old Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line for the throne
Setting: 1933, Ocean Liner and Hollywood CA
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Georgie's mother Claire makes a surprise appearance at Kingsdowne Place where Georgie has been staying (following the events in Heirs and Graces). Her mother wants company in going to Reno for a quickie divorce from a long-ago hitching in which the other party doesn't believe in divorce. Claire is approaching marrying her rich paramor Max and wants nothing to stand in the way. Georgie jumps at the opportunity.
While aboard the five day ocean cruise, movie studio head Cy Goldman insists on casting Claire in his next picture and Claire decides to stop in Reno for the divorce on the way to Hollywood. While on board the ship, there is a robbery of an expensive ruby and Georgie runs into her kinda-sorta fiance Darcy trying to capture the "gentleman thief."
Hollywood sees Georgie getting attention from famous movie actors like sexy Craig Hart and scoundrel Charlie Chaplin. When everybody is invited to Cy's lavish castle in the hills for the weekend, nobody expects murder among the antiques and wild exotic animals roaming the grounds.
Georgie is slowly becoming more worldly, and even speaking her mind occasionally. Darcy O'Mara isn't developed much further, and seems a bit flat and just a usual fixture filling his duty of dangling the carrot of something more for Georgie. Claire Daniels is completely self-centered and mostly ignores Georgie, until Georgie gets male attention...then she is caty to her own daughter. Stella Brightwell, old show business acquaintance of Claire's and former silent film star is Cy's mistress. Stella had more to her than first assumed. Cy Goldman, head of Golden Studios is rendered as nearly larger than life and with cash to burn.
The change of venue from England or Europe to the cruise and then Hollywood had mixed results. It lost some of its charm, but picked up some old Hollywood nostalgia...so fans may have a hard time with the change. Apparently Cy's large monstrosity of a castle is based on the Hearst castle, and Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan Productions inspired Cy Goldman and his movie studio for the second half of this novel.
I hate to admit this since I really enjoy this series, but it is getting formulaic. Each story has: Georgie given an opportunity that will provide food and a place to live so she doesn't starve; Darcy somehow shows up on assignment but never has much quality time for Georgie and thinks he must wait to give her a proper life...no matter if she is going without food in the meantime; Belinda, her friend will somehow miralously wrangle an invitation to the gravy train; and Georgie's mother is always so self absorbed that Georgie scrounging for money or lodging doesn't even register. I do have to admit that Georgie is finally standing up to the impossible maid, Queenie - at least a little.
The killer confrontation had dire consequences that produced some nail-biting excitement, nice job with that. The wrap-up leaves us with some faint hope for Georgie, again, and with a vague notion that Darcy will show up eventually.
For the ardent fan, this is a good addition to the series. The American lifestyle produces some humor for the rigidly raised royal girl. Georgie gets to flex her sleuthing muscles since she is the only one rising to the challenge.
Rating: Good - A fun read with minor flaws. If you are a fan then you don't want to miss ongoing developments. If you are new to the series, this isn't the best book to start with. Best to begin with earlier books, or at the beginning.