Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

Royal Spyness Mystery #13

By Rhys Bowen


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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


 I was so excited when Darcy announced out of the blue that we were flying to Kenya for our extended honeymoon. Now that we are here, I suspect he has actually been sent to fulfill another secret mission. I am trying very hard not to pick a fight about it, because after all, we are in paradise! Darcy finally confides that there have been robberies in London and Paris. It seems the thief was a member of the aristocracy and may have fled to Kenya. Since we are staying in the Happy Valley–the center of upper-class English life–we are well positioned to hunt for clues and ferret out possible suspects.

Now that I am a sophisticated married woman, I am doing my best to sound like one. But crikey! These aristocrats are a thoroughly loathsome sort enjoying a completely decadent lifestyle filled with wild parties and rampant infidelity. And one of the leading lights in the community, Lord Cheriton, has the nerve to make a play for me. While I am on my honeymoon! Of course, I put an end to that right off. (Goodreads)


Lady Georgie and Darcy are headed to Kenya for their honeymoon, but Georgie soon realizes that much more than celebrating their new marriage and safaris are on the itinerary.  She is assigned by the queen to keep an eye on “Cousin” David and Wallis Simpson while Darcy has his sights on a jewel thief (and so much more).  Murder, debauchery, and treason are on the exotic menu in Rhys Bowen’s thirteenth Royal Spyness mystery Love and Death Among the Cheetahs.

In today’s climate of the ever increasing sanitization of history, I really appreciate that author Rhys Bowen does not whitewash her depiction of the English colonials’ attitudes and treatment of the African locals in the 1930’s.  Is the racism of the era morally right? Of course not; it is despicable, but it is historically correct.  And, it is central to the plot and resolution of the mystery within the book’s pages. 

Part of what I love about Georgie is her optimism and slight naivety.  However, here she seems particularly immature and unworldly.    Partner swapping is not new among the aristocratic set, but she is uncharacteristically slow to catch on to the activities of the Happy Valley residents.  The colony characters are a bit difficult to keep straight (they are all so similar and somewhat undefined), but this did not hinder the story or the unfolding of the mystery.  Fans of Darcy, like me, will be pleased that he plays such a big role in the book and the investigation.  I hope his increased presence is a trend that continues in future books.  While I enjoy the change of scenery with the Kenyan setting, I miss the levity and warmth and Georgie’s maid Queenie and grandfather usually bring to the books, and their absence is greatly felt.

The pace of the story is fine.  Bowen’s descriptions of the couple’s lengthy travel and the scenery and animals of Africa provide a perfect escape for armchair travelers.  For the most part, the mystery is well plotted and executed, but the resolution of the murder mystery, as well as other plot threads, are hasty and slapdash.

Overall, Love and Death Among the Cheetahs is an enjoyable addition to the Royal Spyness series.  I look forward to many more adventures with Georgie and Darcy.  Recommended to fans of historical cozy mysteries.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*