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It’s no secret I love a good mystery novel. I especially love discovering new mystery series to dive into – I’ve written about my love for Mary Russell, Tommy & Tuppence, Chet and Bernie and many other detectives. But I hadn’t discovered a good series in a while, till Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series recently came across my radar.

royal spyness books rhys bowen

I tried one of Bowen’s Constable Evans mysteries years ago, but it was a late entry in the series and I didn’t like the lack of context, plus the characters didn’t captivate me. But when I picked up the first mystery featuring Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, cousin to His Majesty King George V and thirty-fourth in line to the throne, I was instantly hooked. Georgie – penniless, single, bored, but resourceful and ready to make her own way in the world – and her escapades in 1930s London are highly entertaining.

These books are Maisie Dobbs lite – similar setting and historical context, but much lighter and frothier than Maisie’s more serious stories. Part of the difference lies in the heroines’ personalities: Georgie is wealthy, sheltered and naive, whereas Maisie began her career as a maid and worked her way up, attending Cambridge and then becoming a private investigator. Part of it is the almost accidental nature of Georgie’s cases: she seems to stumble (often literally) into mysteries, and everything always wraps up neatly at the end.

So far, I’ve seen Georgie begin her new life in London (with no servants – the horror!), start a clandestine cleaning service to make a bit of cash (she secretly cleans the houses of people of her own social class), and solve several murders, including that of a Frenchman who was trying to steal her family’s estate and several people linked to the Communist Party in Britain. Bowen touches lightly on historical issues of the time, such as women’s independence and growing political unrest, but doesn’t dwell on them.

Georgie leaves London in the later books, heading back home to Scotland, to a spooky castle in Transylvania and gadding off to the French Riviera. There are seven books in the series so far, and I’ve read five of them, each one more entertaining than the last.

Many of my favorite series, mystery or not, have a cast of recurring characters, and this series is no exception. I love Georgie’s kind, plainspoken Cockney grandfather, her daring friend Belinda, and especially Darcy O’Mara, the dashing but penniless son of an Irish peer who has stolen Georgie’s heart. A large group of nobles and royals, including the queen herself, several princes and Georgie’s brother and mother, also reappear in each book.

If you’re looking for a cozy historical mystery with a highly amusing heroine, Her Royal Spyness might be just the ticket. I’m looking forward to more of Georgie’s adventures.

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