“Royal Flush – Her Royal Spyness #3 by Rhys Bowen

This series keeps getting better and better. Rhys Bowen manages to keep the tone light and humour flowing while still delivering an interesting murder mystery with a surprisingly high body count, folding in credible historical details and developing the main character and the ensemble cast around her.

Rescued from the potential embarrassment she caused for herself when she tried to expand her Coronets Cleaning Service into a Coronets Escort Service, which she thought could supply girls of good quality (herself) as dinner companions for businessmen travelling alone, Georgie is despatched by Scotland Yard back to her home in Scotland, Castle Rannoch, to act as eyes and ears in the Royal shooting party at nearby Balmoral so that she can assess what seem to be attempts on the lives of the members of the royal family.

This gives us a wonderful opportunity to see Georgie in her home environment, hiking the glens, riding every morning, climbing the crags like a mountain goat.

We also get a chance to be intimate with the Royals (Georgie’s cousins), laugh at American house guests (including the much disliked Wallace Simpson) and their unreasonable needs, bump up against Special Branch in a very “Thirty-Nine Steps” sort of way and encounter a dashing young Italian Count riding his motorcycle too fast, a charismatic female aviator and a team of bright young things trying to break the speed record with a boat on the nearby Loch.

I like the way Rhys Bowen refuses to see even the supporting characters as one dimensional, always finding ways to make them more human and therefore more interesting. In this instalment, we see Fig, her sister-in-law, in a more sympathetic light making the best of her marriage to a nice, harmless but hapless man in a cold castle away in the wilds of Scotland; we get a better view of Georgie’s mother’s way of life, living off her charisma and the wealth of the men it attracts and always seeing herself as the leading lady in her own drama; we see Belinda becoming more and more like Georgie’s mother and loving every moment of it.

This fun read was delivered with consummate skill by Katherine Kellgran. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample of her performance.

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