Friday, October 7, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [adult]

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on October 6, 2011. Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian

Naughty in Nice: A Royal Spyness Mystery by Rhys Bowen

In the fifth installment of the adventures of Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie daughter of the second Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch and thirty-fourth in line to the throne of England  - Georgie for short - we find the intrepid near-royal feeling very sorry for herself as all her not-nearly-as-poor friends are off to spend the winter in the south of France. Being impoverished during a depression is tough. Being an impoverished near-royal during a depression is even harder, believe it or not, when one has never been trained in anything useful (knowing which is the shrimp fork doesn't count) and one can hardly ask one's cousin the Queen for a loan. But if it's one thing Georgie does have, it's gumption, which has led Queen Mary to call upon her from time to time to help avoid some royal scandals. This time the Queen comes to Georgie's rescue - instead of being banished to the cold ancestral home in the north of Scotland (because her nasty and selfish sister-in-law Fig refuses to invite her to France), Georgie's way will be paid for by the Queen - if she will undertake a small commission or two for her. First, retrieve a stolen snuffbox from a suspected thief and second, keep an eye on her cousin Edward and that upstart woman of his, Wallis Simpson. That is not all that happens to Georgie in Nice, however. She reconnects with her lovely actress mother, comes to the attention of Coco Chanel who insists Georgie be a model for her latest collection, and catches the eye of a certain roguish Marquis - much to the consternation of a certain Irish peer who has long been Georgie's fascination. Of course, this is Georgie we're talking about. The snuff-box thief turns up dead with Georgie as prime suspect. While walking the catwalk she promptly trips, falls into the lap of a Russian princess and in the ensuing confusion Queen Mary's borrowed ruby necklace is stolen. What else could happen? Well, that Irish peer could turn up with what looks like a secret wife and son, and there seems to be a Georgie doppelganger skulking around the south of France, wreaking havoc for her. If this is starting to sound like a tissue-drenching melodrama, take heart - Georgie is a clever, winsome heroine, the dialogue is quick with banter and the 1930's setting is dripping with atmosphere. One could almost call it a cozy mystery, except it has far too much spirit. For fans of the Phrynne Fisher and Maisie Dobbs series.

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