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This is the ninth book in the Joe Sandilands series, but is set earlier than the rest in 1920 and 1922. Another difference is that although Joe is the main character a lot of the action is seen through the eyes of Lily Wentworth, a female constable, brave and resourceful but not quite "out of the top drawer". Because of cuts, her job is on the line, but Joe adds her to his staff for a special job, which requires her to be able to pass as out of the topmost drawer. The nuances and small pettiness of class difference and snobbery add interest and some humour to the story.

Meanwhile, there has been a killing. A prominent admiral, on the point of retirement, and an acquaintance of Sandilands, has been shot as he returns home late at night with his wife. At first sight it seems to be an assassination by Irish terrorists, an open and shut case. But then there seem to be indications that Russian revolutionaries may be involved. This ties in with the special duties that Joe has recruited Lily for. Is there a red plot threatening the great and the good of the British establishment or are more domestic issues involved?

The plot is complex and at times tortuous, but, if followed with care, it does all make sense and the solution ties up enough of the loose ends to be satisfactory.

In addition to Lily we meet some more of Joe's team - his over-protective secretary, Miss Jamieson, the enigmatic James Bacchus of Special Branch and his deputy, aristocratic and arrogant Rupert Fanshawe late of the Grenadier Guards. Through the actions and reactions of these characters we get and interesting and, I think, a fairly accurate representation of London life at the beginning of the twenties.

I really enjoyed this book and I hope we see more of Lily Wentworth in the future. She's good value.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 November 2011
First Sentence: "Are you sure this is the place, cabby?"

It's 1922 and Commander Joe Sandilands, back from his tour in India, is now head of the CID and the Special Irish Branch of the Metropolitan Police. Tsar Nicholas, cousin to King George, and his family have been murdered in Russia and the Irish threat is ever present. With the murder of Lord Dedham by a pair of Irish gunman with the assistance of an escaped third gunman, and suspicions of a Russian spy out to kill the Royal Family, Joe commanders the assistance of Lily Wentworth, a young Constable he saved from being knifed in the posterior while arresting a child predator.

For those who have been following this series and reading the books as they are released, Ms. Cleverly has jumped us back in time from Joe's last adventure, set in 1926, to this one. For those for whom this is their introduction to Joe, fear not as it reads very well as a standalone and provides sufficient character definition so as not to feel lost.

The biggest difference is that whereas the previous books focused on Joe alone, this is a collaborative, and professional, effort between Joe and Lily. One of the most significant things about Lily, is seeing how the role of women in England had changed during this time. There actually was the first female CID officer, Lilian Wyles, appointed in 1922/23. That blending of historical facts, and many characters, within a fictional story is only one of the things Ms. Cleverly does extremely well.

Another of Ms. Cleverly's strengths is her voice. She conveys emotion very effectively. Both the dialogue and her narrative convey the social class and role of the character involved. There are flashes of humor, such as an observation natural for someone at Joe's age of 29, and a cleaver way in which we are informed of Lily's appearance and capability through "hearing" Joe's side of a telephone conversation. She creates a strong sense of time and place through the use of period euphemisms..."Phyl...the Slip-Up? How's he doing?" (an illegitimate child) and ..."He's not planning to twang your elastic" (get in your panties), but also illustrating the social structure and manners of the time. There is even an excellent argument on loyalty to England and the purpose of the monarchy and a painfully realistic view about war..."The men of Europe were straining for a war. When the will to war is there, one bullet from a madman's gun outweighs years of diplomacy." and that the actions of great nations can be substantially less noble than the nations themselves. It is the hallmark of a fine writer when they make you stop and think.

However, the dark is well offset with the light. Although listed as "A Joe Sandilands Murder Mystery," the stage is shared by, and sometimes dominated by, Lily. It is refreshing to have a male and female character in strong roles without their being a romantic relationship. Each character definitely holds their own although there are several scenes between them which seem rather unrealistic, but rather how one would like such relationships to be.

They story is very effectively written; you are drawn in further into the story and the darkness of the time with each chapter. There are well executed changes of direction that take you, with some good suspense, down unexpected roads. Unfortunately, there is one major convenience that makes things a bit too pat, but it is of little consequence to the overall and the ending is a bit abrupt.

"THE BLOOD ROYAL" is, in all, another very good read from Ms. Cleverly.

THE BLOOD ROYAL (Hist Mys/Pol Proc-Joe Sandilands/Lily Wendworth-England-1922/Golden Age) - Good
Cleverly, Barbara - 9th published in series; 5th chronologically in series
New York; Soho Constable, ©2011
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on 9 March 2012
I am a huge fan of the Joe Sandilands series and I have to say this is the best , and most complex yet. I will not summarise the plot, that can be seen in other reviews, suffice it to say that it is superbly researched, quite complex and brilliantly written.
As another reviewer has said ,Joe appears in this book more as a puppet-master, controlling the actions of others, however in the new character of WPC Lily Wentworth, he is not always completely in control and ,in many ways, she proves to be equal to Joe in her sleuthing. There are two parallel mysteries, many clues leading to many suspects, each one equally plausible as the "villain". just when you think you have the solution you are confounded.
The final denouement, when it comes, is a complete coup de foudre though the threads leading to it have been delineated from the start. The final paragraph leads us to expect another outing for Joe and Lily. I for one cannot wait to read it
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on 12 November 2011
In her latest novel, Barbara Cleverly's Joe Sandilands takes a less prominent role - more as a puppet master manipulating the strings of his Petroushka, which, surprise, surprise, turns out to have a mind of its own - not to mention a sharp intelligence and bags of courage. This particular puppet is of course, an attractive young female PC.

Thus, with the focus more on WPC Lily, we are offered a much deeper insight into the Commander's character and his relationship with his peers and subordinates, even perhaps, the interesting analogy with Sir George, stemming from their encounters in India - both formidable individuals but with an eye for the ladies.

The murder and attempted murders of prominent figures in the Establishment lead to a frantic hunt for the culprit before even greater damage can be done. Various suspects are offered with particular regard to the prevalent fears of foreign assassins both Irish and Russian.

Social life in early 1920s London seems very plausible, with the clever use of the most prominent amongst the eligible bachelors adding the final glitter to the high society frivolities.

A well researched book, up to the usual standard and a satisfying traditional twist draws it all to a close. Then on the very last page - a hint of further assignments to be shared by the Commander and his WPC....

Much recommended.
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on 4 October 2015
I liked the period covered in this book which in part looks at the different political struggles that were being experienced in London. The Fenian struggle was a sideline though compared to the question of the social life of the Russian émigrés who were exiled in London and their continued loyalty to Russia and the Romanov Family. Good strong female sidekick, Wentworth. I would like to see this character developed through further London based adventures.
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on 27 March 2013
I loved every page of this carefully researched novel. The partnership between Lily and Joe adds an extra dimension to the Joe Sandilands series. The insightful images of Russian society in post revolution London were interesting as was the view of Edward, Prince of Wales.
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on 16 June 2013
Another great story that will continue to keep you guessing to the end,the only thing that spoils the series is that the stories are not in sequence so you're going back in time with this story after the last stories about France set later in time
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on 20 May 2013
I love all these novels with the Joe Sandilands character, I have to say though, that I particularly like the earlier ones set in India. Wonderful easy and engrossing reads all of them.
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on 31 March 2014
A most enjoyable read. Two mysteries inextricably running in tandem, keep your attention whilst a third strand runs deep alongside of the life of our heroine. Marvelous.
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on 15 July 2015
Sandilands needed a grown up Dorcus as a foil and Wentworth fits the bill perfectly. A really good story line. The historical detail was interesting.
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