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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Lady Georgiana has a problem. She's over the age where she should be married, but she's still single. And her brother has just cut off her allowance.

Now if you're thinking, "No problem, just get a job" then you need a few more details. See, Georgie is thirty-fourth in line for the throne of England and this is 1932 London. Even though she has no money, working is beneath her class. Beside, what can she really do?

Georgie doesn't let that stop her, however. She starts trying her hand at anything she can think of, as anonymously as possible of course. And she may have found the perfect way to make some money to support her self. That is, until she finds a very dead man in her own bathtub. How did he get there? And, more importantly, is Georgie's life in danger?

I've been a devoted fan of Rhys Bowen's work since I discovered it five years ago. So buying this book was a no brainer. And I must say I enjoyed it.

The mystery itself was a little slow, especially at the beginning. Once it got going, it held my interest until the end. And I was completely stumped, figuring it out only when Georgie did.

What kept me going was Georgie herself. She is lots of fun with a great sense of humor. Her narration had me grinning most of the way through the book. She's just the right mix of upper class and realist to be immediately likable.

This book is as much about Georgie's search to support herself as it is the mystery. If read as such, it will be very satisfying. Light and fun reading.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 September 2008
HER ROYAL SPYNESS (Cozy-Lady Victoria-England-1930s) - G
Bowen, Rhys - 1st in series
Berkeley Prime Crime, 2008, US Paperback - ISBN: 9780425222522

First Sentence: There are two disadvantages to being a minor royal.

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie may be 34th in line for the throne, but she is also broke. She is staying at the family mansion, Rennoch House, in London and learning to be self-sufficient.

A disagreeable Frenchman shows up at the door looking for her brother. He claims their father, a gambler who had lost the family fortune, had also lost the family home, Castle Rennoch. Victoria later finds the Frenchman dead in the bathtub and her brother her brother headed back to the Castle. She doesn't believe her brother killed the Frenchman; how she just has to prove it.

This first book in Ms. Bowen's new series introduces us to a cast of delightful characters. While some seem to be social stereotypes, it's hard not to be drawn to Lady Victoria and her non-titled grandfather, an ex-policeman. In fact, almost the first half of the book introduces us to the characters. Only after that do we get into the mystery, which is decently done except for way too many coincidences.

The book is a bit too light for my taste, but it is a fun.
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on 16 February 2017
This is great fun, but well observed and historically fairly accurate right down to the fact that Queen Mary was a great acquirer of Chinese porcelain and Jade - a close relative worked in the British Museum during the 30's and, I'm told, was regularly assigned distraction duties if she came in when they had any new acquisitions.
I loved the idea of a penniless aristocrat starting a domestic agency without having a clue how to clean or lay a fire, and getting fed by gate crashing weddings. I will certainly start reading the rest of this series.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 30 September 2013
In 1932, a well-brought-up young lady, 34th in line to the English throne, simply does not take up paid employment, no matter how hard up her family is, or given that she has had her allowance cut off. But Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie does not care for the conventions. She's determined to make her own way in the world, so she bolts from the family home in Scotland and heads to London. But once there, she finds that she not only has to learn how to build a fire and dust, but also discovers that life may have become much more complicated than she could ever have imagined. The Queen commands her to spy on her son's current amour, Wallis Simpson, she finds herself having feelings for a totally unsuitable Catholic Irishman who's way too charming for his own good, and she's beginning to worry somebody's trying to kill her.

This is a delightful story; Lady Georgiana is cheerful and flippant about her class in life, yet very alive to the distinctions in Society that make so many people worse off than her; she loves her family and friends yet does not shy away from their failings; and she's determined that anybody trying to make trouble for her family will not get away with it, if she has anything to do with it.

The style of writing is light and engaging, and the story is complex enough to keep the reader's interest, and intriguing and a jolly good `detective'-type story along with it. Definitely recommended, and I shall be looking out for more in this series.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 October 2009
And the body of a dead Frenchman is exactly what Lady Georgiana, the heroine of this book, finds in her bath at the start of this comic murder mystery.

This is the first in a series of, currently, three "Royal Spyness" mysteries by Rhys Bowen, who is also the author of the "Molly Malone" and "Constable Evans" mystery series. The heroine and central character is a delightful but penniless minor royal called Lady Georgiana (full name Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, but known to her friends as Georgie), great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and half-sister of the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch.

The book is set in 1932. On overhearing that Queen Mary has asked her brother to organise a house party in the hope of marrying her off to Prince Seigfried of Romania, who she can't stand, Georgie escapes to the family home in London, Rannoch House. This does not get her away from the Queen's plans for long: instead HM asks Georgie to spy on the Prince of Wales and report back on whether he is really serious about this american woman, Mrs Simpson, who the prince seems to be spending a lot of time with.

Before this gets very far, Georgie finds the aforementioned foreign body in the bath at Rannoch House. Worse, it soon becomes apparent that both Georgie and her brother would have had a strong motive to murder the dead man, and the Duke is arrested. While trying to keep an eye on the Prince of Wales, find evidence to clear her brother's name, and surreptitiously earn a few pennies to keep body and soul together, Georgie comes to suspect that someone is trying to murder her too. But why?

Fairly amusing, and I intend to read the other books in the series, which are A Royal Pain (Royal Spyness Mysteries) and Royal Flush (Royan Spyness Mysteries).
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VINE VOICEon 16 September 2010
This is the first in what has since become a series of books by Rhys Bowen - about Georgie, a single girl who has yet to find a husband, but has no means of supporting herself because she is not qualified to do anything and seems to have got herself tangled up with her families and her brothers problems when she comes to London and a dead body of a rather arrogant Frenchman is found in the bath. A man trying to get her into her bed. As well as this a cousin by marriage has asked her to do some spying on her son who seems to have got himself involved with a divorced American woman.

An interesting premise but let me add in a few more bits - Georgie is in fact thirty-fourth in line to the throne, she has no means of her support as her brother, Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch has cut off her allowance to keep the ancestral pile in Scotland, Castle Rannoch in one piece. Despite having being presented at season many years before her gawkiness and clumsiness have not enabled her to be married off. The rather arrogant Frenchman comes to Georgie's brother because he claims he won Castle Rannoch of Georgie's father through gambling. Darcy O'Mara is the wild Irish man who is trying to bed Georgie, but then he suddenly changes his mind. Oh and the cousin is in fact Queen Mary wanting Georgie to spy on her son David and someone called Mrs Simpson.

Now if you know your history, this book is well set in the 1930s and based in London. It was paced enough to keep you turning the page and there was plenty of story as well as red herrings before you realised that perhaps there was more to the Frenchman and in the bath. The humour of the book is there, as we see how Georgie tries to earn a living, by cleaning for people. Nothing to dirty though - she cannot bring herself to go down the coal hole. Only airing, and opening houses up for people. She knows her place as thirty-fourth in line to the throne.

If you love, murder mysteries and like the era then these books are a must. They put me in mind of the `Silent' series by Deanna Raybourn, which although not set in the thirties, has similar protagonists and rescuers. A good wet Sunday afternoon, curl up on the sofa murder.
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This is enjoyable light reading for when you need something fun, frivolous and frothy.

There's nothing in the slightest bit challenging here, and some very familiar plots and characters: the upper-class `gel' who needs to work and earn her own money (cf. Daisy Dalrymple); the actress mother who `bolts' from all her marriages (cf. The Bolter in Nancy Mitford's books); the inane upper-class men who can't pronounce their `Rs' (`mawwy me'), can't dance without stepping on their partner's toes, and so on.

Added into this mix is what feels like a sop to an American readership which takes our heroine into Buckingham Palace to have tea with the queen, and some rather unkind bitching about Wallis Simpson. Oh, and of course a murder which only our heroine can solve.

Bowen pulls the whole thing together with huge enjoyment despite the gaping flaws - a murderer who carries cyanide around in his pocket on the off-chance he'll get to use it; a heroine who doesn't have a faintest idea how to make black coffee but makes a living cleaning other people's houses (including the toilet!).

If you enjoy cosy, light-hearted books like the Daisy Dalrymple or Agatha Raisin series then this may be a good choice - perfect switch-your-brain-off reading.
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on 6 February 2013
I was looking forward to reading this book. I enjoy most crime whether it is cosy or heavier weight crime. But for me this book necessitated too much suspension of disbelief. The lead characters annoyed me, I just cannot believe in, nor can I be impressed by, people who are unable to cope with ordinary everyday activities such as general housework or domestic tasks. I know that many people will disagree with my review as I can see that these books are very popular with many people. I could not see why someone who is 34th in line to the throne couldn't get a normal job, members of the royal family, much further up the sucession hold down perfectly normal jobs. I was also annoyed by the quantity of American spellings, words such as "favor and gray" occur frequently throughout the book. And to read a book written by a British author largely about the British royal family written using American English really annoyed me. I have to accept this if I read American writers, but in this case, the only explanation that I could come up with is that the book has been published by an American company. But I do not believe it would be unreasonable to expect a British author's book to be publised using UK English. I am not using very good at spotting these sort of things but I couldn't help noticing some similarities to a book by D L Sayers which features an Inspector Sugg and a body in a bath, both of which feature heavily in this book.
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on 7 November 2010
I didn't have very high hopes for this novel, I must admit. The concept seemed very formulaic, especially since whodunnits from that period (1930s) have been done to death (no pun intended!).

The book started off well enough, but rapidly degenerated into predictability. The clues were glaringly obvious, there were irritating details that were wrong for the period, and the ending felt rushed, as though even the author was bored with the whole book.
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on 11 April 2011
Georgie is great fun. I can't wait for the next one.I love the mix of historical figures and facts that weave in and out of Georgie's obviousley ficticious life. Relax and enjoy
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