God Rest Ye, Royal Gentleman
Royal Spyness #15
By Rhys Bowen
Author’s website: rhysbowen.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Georgie is excited for her first Christmas as a married woman in her lovely new home. She suggests to her dashing husband, Darcy, that they have a little house party, but when Darcy receives a letter from his aunt Ermintrude, there is an abrupt change in plans. She has moved to a house on the edge of the Sandringham estate, near the royal family, and wants to invite Darcy and his new bride for Christmas. Aunt Ermintrude hints that the queen would like Georgie nearby. Georgie had not known that Aunt Ermintrude was a former lady-in-waiting and close confidante of her royal highness. The letter is therefore almost a royal request, so Georgie, Darcy, and their Christmas guests: Mummy, Grandad, Fig, and Binky all head to Sandringham.
Georgie soon learns that the notorious Mrs. Simpson, mistress to the Prince of Wales, will also be in attendance. It is now crystal clear to Georgie that the Queen expects her to do a bit of spying. There is tension in the air from the get-go, and when Georgie pays a visit to the queen, she learns that there is more to her request than just some simple eavesdropping. There have been a couple of strange accidents at the estate recently. Two gentlemen of the royal household have died in mysterious circumstances and another has been shot by mistake during a hunt. Georgie begins to suspect that a member of the royal family is the real target but her investigation will put her new husband and love of her life, Darcy, in the crosshairs of a killer.
Set in the final days of 1935, God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen, the fifteenth entry in the Royal Spyness Mystery series, is a Christmas delight sure to please longtime fans and new readers alike.
Christmas is coming, and newlyweds Georgie and Darcy are planning their first holiday celebration in their home until they receive an invitation from Darcy’s Aunt Ermintrude to join her house party. Ermintrude was one of Queen Mary’s ladies-in-waiting and now lives adjacent to Sandringham estate where the Royal family is holidaying. It quickly becomes apparent that this invitation is as good as a royal summons, and they cannot refuse. Along with Georgie’s family, there are several couples in attendance including Georgie’s cousin David and his paramour Wallis Simpson. The queen requests Georgie keep an eye on the couple but also expresses worry that some accidents and tragic deaths occurring at the estate might be targeting David. As the body rises, Georgie and Darcy investigate, but is it all really about the Prince of Wales? Will Darcy become a victim?
I love that this book is set at Christmastime, and the secluded house party theme is the perfect backdrop for the murders. The Royal family plays an important role, and I really like Queen Mary but equally dislike Wallis. But then, Wallis is always portrayed in a less than positive light, right? Georgie is as delightful as ever and Darcy is still quite dashing. It is nice to learn even more about his family. The details of an English Christmas are engrossing, and I felt like I was in the midst of the shooting parties, early morning horseback rides, ice skating, and festive meals. There are even puppies to round out the festivities.
The pace is a bit slow (leisurely holiday) but it builds to a climactic reveal. There is, however, a solid mystery here that is not overshadowed by the festive air. I did not figure out the killer’s identity until Georgie put it all together and was taken by surprise even though there are lots of theories, suspects, clues, and red herrings to keep readers guessing. Motivations, circumstances, and emotions run the gamut, and there are moments of great sadness as well as great joy. Historical figures and events are woven seamlessly throughout the story.
God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen is a smart addition to its highly entertaining long running series. I cannot wait to read more Georgie adventures as this book leaves readers on the cusp of great change. Highly recommended.