Book Review: Her Royal Spyness, by Rhys Bown


Her Royal Spyness, by Rhys Bowen

Her Royal Spyness Mysteries #1

Book Length: 324 pages

Time to Read: Three days of 2-4 hours of reading a day.

Comedic casual historical Lady Mystery (I’m just making these genres up now).

Adult Fiction.

According to the Blurb on the Back:

Rhys Bowen’s two series, the Molly Murphy and Constable Evans mysteries, proved time and time again to be “consistently satisfying” and “compelling”. Now she turns her attentions to the mischief, mishaps, and musings of stylish minor English royalty – circa 1930…

My ridiculously long name is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter to the Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch. And I am, as they say, flat broke. A girl of my standing – that is, thirty-fourth in line for the throne – is good for only a few things: perfecting my curtsey, hosting fetes – oh, and marrying into a noble family for the ever-so-romantic reason of securing allies.

But my brother Binky cut off my meagre allowance. So I bolted from Scotland – and a marriage to Fish-Face (I mean, Prince Siegfried of Romania) – and headed to London, where I have:

a) Worked behind a Harrods cosmetics counter for all of five hours before getting sacked

b) Built a fire in the hearth – entirely on my own, thank you very much

c) Started to fall for a minor royal who’s Catholic, Irish, and unsuitable in every way

d) Made a few quid housekeeping (incognita, of course) and

e) Been personally summoned by the Queen herself to spy on her playboy son

Less than thrilled with this last bit, I’m wondering what to do when an arrogant Frenchman, who – coincidentally enough – is trying to swipe the estate that’s been in my family for eight hundred years, winds up dead in my bathtub. Now, my new job is to clear my very long family name…


I need to start off by saying that I enjoyed this book. Great, now I can rip it to pieces.

Now I did like this book, but there were two very stupid things the protagonist did which I find difficult to believe. Georgie is a smart girl, and we know she had read Sherlock Holmes (or at least knew where he fictionally lived) so I did find it difficult that she (very, very minor spoiler here) wrote a note to her brother regarding the body she found and left it on his bed in case he came home. See, she was worried her brother might be involved in the murder in some way or another and wanted to talk to him before phoning the police. Then, later that day, she ended up having to call the police after not finding her brother (and forged an alibi to pretend she had only just discovered the body) and had forgotten about the note. This little slip-up was raised in the novel but it wasn’t resolved (did the police find this incriminating note and if so why didn’t they question her about it?), which was something else that really annoyed me. Or maybe it was resolved briefly but I missed it somehow. It happens.

The second stupid thing Georgie did was at the end of the novel and happened purely for suspense and flew in the face of logic. I felt it was a moment of pushing the plot upon the protagonist but it was a stock-standard thing to happen in a novel (damsel in distress and all that), so I suppose that’s forgivable.

What is NOT forgivable is anglesize. WTF is anglesize? It took me a moment to realise what was meant:

“He worshipped his guardian too, poor little chap. So if you happen to bump into him, do be kind to him, won’t you? Tristram Hautbois.” (She pronounced it “Hote-boys,” naturally. It is the done thing to anglesize any French name when possible).

Anglicise. Anglicise. Anglicise. Anglicise. Not anglesize. If you are to make something Anglican, you anglicise it. For goodness sake, I hope that was the mistake of an American editor and not the author, who is English even if she’s living in Northern California these days.

One of the skills I have is (for some reason) remembering where on a page a certain sentence had struck me. This one, I remembered, was in the top left of the open book and inside brackets, which made it easy to locate again so I could mock it.

There were a couple of other niggling errors that crept up during my read, mostly typos and things, but nothing as blatantly bad as that. I don’t know how books can be published in glorious print with errors. After all that writing, self-editing, professional editing and beta reading that had meant to have gone on I would have expected someone would pick these things up.

And this book is another one of those with a seriously misleading title. Georgie does no spying. Mystery-solving out of necessity, yes, but no spying. It is a clever title so I guess they just wanted to use it no matter whether it tied in with the plot or not. Who knows? Maybe the spying starts in the sequel.

Perhaps it’s a testament to how much I enjoyed the read by how annoyed I got at these little things. Anyway, I do recommend it if you like those Lady mysteries like I do, and the humour was good. It’s not Miss Fisher (which is a little more serious, but more polished too), but it is fun and I will read the rest in the series whenever I need something whimsical and light-hearted. Thumbs up.

P.S. I’m sorry about slipping into a slightly posh and pretentious tone. I’ve only just finished the book and it’s still kinda stuck on me. Oh, good. I think it’s cleared up 🙂


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