Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

England, 1932


Her Royal Spyness

by Rhys Bowen

Georgie (Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, cousin of King George V of England) a year after her failed social “season” has fled her grim ancestral manor in Scotland to see if she can’t make a go of it in London. The problem? Her father is dead and her half brother has cut off her allowance. As a recognizable member of the upper class, what can she do to support herself? It turns out that Georgie is not alone. In the throes of the Depression, many in her social set are in the same boat. Like them, Georgie learns to survive, and this is what makes this story fun. From gate-crashing weddings to doing light housecleaning, in disguise, Georgie’s escapades bring home the dilemma of a class unused to work in the 1930s.

Of course society’s solution for Georgie is marriage to wealth and position. The Queen, in fact, has the perfect Prince in mind, one Georgie despises. Then a body is found in her London house bathtub, her brother is accused of the murder, and her own life seems in danger. She also has been asked to spy on her Cousin David’s (Prince of Wales) paramour, Mrs. Simpson, for the Queen. Suddenly Georgie’s skills as investigator appear, probably to be enlarged in future books.

The story reads more like a novel than fast paced mystery. The obsession of the upper class with maintaining their status, therefore forbidden women the leeway to change, seems a too repetitive motif. Comments about the limiting value of England’s public school education in providing adequate career skills, descriptions of rigid class differences, and the use of contemporary expressions help set the book in its period.



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