Tag Archives: Rhys Bowen

Her Royal Spyness

Rhys Bowen, Her Royal Spyness

After far too long on the dreaded TBR pile Her Royal Spyness insisted on some attention. Must have been the princessy air of the last few days. And interestingly, Rhys Bowen’s crime novel about a sleuthing royal might be set in 1932, but it all happens in late April and early May and the dates and days of the week coincide beautifully with the last few days. (Now that I’ve praised Rhys for this, I sincerely hope she checked her facts, so that I’m not happy about something that’s all wrong…)

Lady Georgiana Rannoch is 34th in line to the throne. But she’s poor and wants to avoid being married off to some fish-faced European prince and escapes off to London. One shock to her hardy Scottish system is finding that it’s not easy to live without servants. Another is finding a dead Frenchman in her bath. Its very much not the done thing.

She has tea with the Queen, and ponders marrying her cousin David. She tries life as a working girl, selling cosmetics in Harrods and cleaning toilets for rich people.

But someone seems to want to kill her, which isn’t nice. And there is the unfortunate corpse in the bath.

Georgiana meets up with not just a penniless – and Catholic! – charmer of an aristocratic Irishman, but also with her old playmate from when they used to cavort naked together. This being a crime novel for Americans, there is a chap by the name of Featherstonehaugh. Obviously. There are many other quaint little upperclass British things, from how to address a Duke to how much brown bread you may eat when having tea with the Queen.

There are also some Americanisms which have slipped in; either because Rhys forgot what’s what after all her time in the US, or her editors might have assisted with the ‘improvements’. It doesn’t matter. It’s a fun book, set in a distant and seemingly attractive past. If you know how to speak to the butler, a lack of funds is a mere inconvenience.

After all that time lying in wait for me, there are now several more Royal Spyness novels. I’d read them if I only had the time.

Did I mention that the cover is purple?

Bookwitch bites #44

Let’s have some bites with a Scandinavian slant. Even if it’s just about me. (Isn’t it always?)

I’ve been working on the Tim Bowler interview (which will be with you very shortly), and it was nice to see I made the news on Tim’s website. He’s either very polite, or has got his priorities all muddled up.

Tim Bowler news

Something – and I don’t know what it was, but it certainly wasn’t the speed of my dial-up this week – had me surf round blogs and websites. Nice to find that some of my favourites make it into translation. Here are Marcus Sedgwick’s ‘Swordhand’ and Chris Priestley’s horror stories, Swedish style.

Marcus Sedgwick, De Som Går Igen

Chris Priestley, Onkel Montagues Spökhistorier

My Danish blogger friend Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen does not only blog in two languages, getting the English version correct, but she writes fiction as well. (I believe there might even be a paid day job somewhere and possibly household chores, too.) She has a small story collection available to buy online for those of you who are equipped with e-readers. That does not include me. I love the title, which is really witty: Candied Crime.

Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

Someone with a different kind of language issue is Rhys Bowen, the British crime writer transplanted to America. In her latest newsletter she told fans about breaking her wrist, which is delaying her next novel. Trying speech recognition software Rhys found it couldn’t quite deal with what she was hoping to write; ‘heir to the throne’ became ‘air to the thrown’ and ‘to let’ changed into what I always see it as when out and about and morphed into ‘toilet’.

Seeing as I mentioned e-readers just now, Rhys says she has a short ‘Molly’ story (The Amersham Rubies) coming out soon, to coincide with her next Molly novel. Free on Kindle. And how does that help me?

Murphy’s Law

Molly Murphy has red hair, so it goes without saying that she will have killed a man in her Irish village, necessitating an unplanned trip to America, where she immediately witnesses another murder, causing Molly having to clear her name and that of someone else.

The year is 1901, and she ends up looking after two Irish children on the journey. She quarrels with the murdered man. Before he was murdered, naturally. Entering the US under a false name, it’s not the most sensible thing for her to fall in love with the detective from the New York police department. Nor was it wise to almost get a job as a prostitute, or to go looking for the murderer on her own.

Maybe Molly is more a girl of the second half of the 20th century, than the first half, but it doesn’t matter. Reading about the young New York is quite interesting, especially as seen from the point of view of an Irish newcomer. Today’s city is being built. There is corruption everywhere. But there is a system to it.

I knew I’d like this book.

I was so taken by the way Rhys Bowen moderated her panel at the 2008 CrimeFest in Bristol, that I knew I had to read something of hers. All her books looked good, so choosing wasn’t easy. Murphy’s Law comes first in the series about Molly who escapes Ireland as a fugitive from justice. Not that it was justice for Irish people in those days. It sort of explains the Irish community in America, though. And the corruption.

New friends

Now, I obviously don’t mean that all these illustrious writers are my friends. I’m thinking more along the lines that I’ve had my eyes opened, and my interest has been awakened, and all that. And there are many more that I won’t list here, to avoid boring you as much as one of Saturday’s moderators bored me.

Managed to have a gap Saturday morning, that fitted in well with Stephen Booth, and we had a long fruitful conversation, which only fleetingly dealt with goats. Ruth Downie continues to be very friendly, and so does Kate Ellis. My foreign-ness caused a temporary obstacle with Declan Hughes yesterday morning, but never mind that I came across like an idiot. I am an idiot.

Ian Rankin was wonderful, and thankfully he refrained from singing to us. I was very taken with Rhys Bowen on Friday, and reluctantly revisited Blackwell’s to buy two of her books, for which they proceeded to overcharge me by £8. Will not buy from them again. But anyway, Rhys was lovely when cornered by the witch, and I’m really looking forward to reading her books.

Saturday night offered the big gala dinner, which I felt might be a bit iffy, but I was wrong as usual. Shouldn’t advertise hotels here, but the Marriott Royal have done a good job this weekend, and the dinner was no exception. The dessert could have been smaller, if I must complain. Not all dinners have speeches by Karin Fossum, Jeff Lindsay and Ian Rankin, but this one did.

My new Argentinian granny sat next to me at dinner, and through her I was introduced to a very interesting forensic scientist, and I heard a lot about the mud in Hay.

And whoever it was that did all that drinking in the cocktail bar on my behalf on Friday morning; I hope you enjoyed it. The receptionist was willing to tell me what I’d drunk, but after the first glass the teetotal witch felt dizzy and stopped her. Skål!