‘God Rest ye, Royal Gentlemen’ – Her Royal Spyness #15 by Rhys Bowen

This was a fun quiet, relatively peaceful Christmas cosy mystery that I enjoyed listening to over Christmas.

‘God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen’ doesn’t have the body count of the last Christmas special, ‘The Twelve Clues Of Christmas’, nor the same lightness of spirit. There have been another eight books since then and the Georgie in this book is a grown woman, newly married, self-confident and much more secure in her independence.

Georgie is planning her first Christmas in her own home as a married woman when she is invited by Darcy’s eccentric, newly-widowed, artist aunt Ermintrude to spend Christmas at her grace and favour home at Sandringham. Ermintrude is a former lady-in-waiting to the Queen and Georgie is left with the impression that the request to be at Sandringham comes indirectly from the Queen, so attendance is mandatory.

The story that follows gives us a closeup and personal view of how the Royal Family held Christmas and New Year at Sandringham in 1935/36, just before King George V’s death on 20th January.

Georgie gets involved in investigating some apparently accidental deaths of members of staff of the Royal Household which may indicate an attempt on the life of the heir to the throne. The house she and Darcy are staying at is stuffed with colourful characters, including the invariably unpleasant Mrs Simpson. Georgie gets to attend a royal shoot, go riding on the estate and spend time with Queen Mary and meet briefly with the Processes. All of which is described with the confident, understated intimacy of an insider.

The plot is quite twisty but not fast-moving. One of the killings is very ingenious.I couldn’t work out how it had been done and I had to admire the solution. The suspect pool is not very big but it is very colourful and kept my suspicions dancing from one person to the next.

Most of the book is fairly low-key but there are a couple of action sequences where Georgie is at risk. There’s also some interesting news at the end of the book that will shape what happens next.

Historically, what happens next is that David becomes King for a year, after which he abdicates to marry Mrs Simpson. I’m curious to see how Rhys Bowen will tackle that and what role, if any Georgie will play in it.

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