The Last Mrs. Summers
Royal Spyness Mystery, Book #14
By Rhys Bowen
Author Website: rhysbowen(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Lady Georgiana Rannoch is just back from her honeymoon with dashing Darcy O’Mara when a friend in need pulls her into a twisted Gothic tale of betrayal, deception and, most definitely, murder. . . .
I am a bit at loose ends at the moment. My cook, Queenie, is making my new role as mistress of Eynsleigh something akin to constant torture as Darcy is off on another one of his top secret jaunts. And Grandad is busy helping wayward youths avoid lives of crime. So when my dearest friend, Belinda, inherits an old cottage in Cornwall and begs me to go with her to inspect the property, I jump at the chance.
After a heart-stopping journey in Belinda’s beast of a motorcar, we arrive at the creaky old cottage called White Sails and quickly realize that it is completely uninhabitable. Just when I’m starting to wonder if I would have been better off trying to get Queenie to cook a roast that hasn’t been burnt beyond all recognition, we meet Rose Summers, a woman Belinda knew as a child when she spent time in Cornwall. Rose invites us to stay at Trewoma Hall, the lovely estate now owned by her husband, Tony.
Belinda confesses that she never liked Rose and had a fling with Tony years ago, so staying with them is far from ideal but beggars can’t be choosers as they say. Trewoma is not the idyllic house Belinda remembers. There’s something claustrophobic and foreboding about the place. Matters aren’t helped by the oppressively efficient housekeeper Mrs. Mannering or by the fact that Tony seems to want to rekindle whatever he and Belinda once had right under his wife’s nose.
Our increasingly awkward visit soon turns deadly when a member of the household is found murdered and all clues point to Belinda as the prime suspect. I soon learn that some long buried secrets have come back to haunt those in residence at Trewoma Hall and I’ll need to sift through the ruins of their past so Belinda doesn’t lose her chance at freedom in the present. (Goodreads)
The Last Mrs. Summers, the fourteenth installment in the long running Royal Spyness series, is a fun homage to Rebecca. I liked it but did not love it.
Georgie’s good friend Belinda has inherited a cottage from her grandmother and implores Georgie, who is newly returned from her honeymoon and on her own since Darcy is away, to go with her to Cornwall. What they find is an almost uninhabitable fishing shack instead of a cozy cottage. However, fortune seems to be on their side when they run into Rose Summers, whom Belinda knew as a child, and she invites them to stay at her manor. There is something off about the house, and things become dicey when Rose’s husband Tony is murdered in Belinda’s room. It does not help matters that she and Tony had an affair years ago, and the police quickly make Belinda their prime suspect. But, Tony was not universally loved, and Georgie sets out to find the real killer and clear her friend’s name.
I always enjoy spending time with Georgie, and this book is no exception. It is still entertaining, just not my favorite of the series. I have so enjoyed Darcy being featured more in the most recent books, and I miss him here. I do not dislike Belinda’ character, but I got tired of her. The supporting characters central to this mystery fall a little flat. Readers are given adequate back stories for each of them, but they seem one dimensional at worst and a little boring at best.
The mystery of The Last Mrs. Summers is not hard to figure out, especially if one has read Rebecca. Bowen does a fine job providing the gothic tone and atmosphere needed for the tale. There really are not that many parallels to Daphne du Maurier‘s work, but there are enough to give readers familiar with both stories to feel a bit of déjà vu. Even though I easily identified the killer, it took a bit longer to figure out their motive. Adventure is missing, but the pace is steady. I also miss Georgie doing favors for the queen.
The Last Mrs. Summers is enjoyable, and do not hesitate to recommend it to fans of the Royal Spyness series.