I’m so glad I listened to this after I’d already listened to The Matriarch, because it gave me the context to appreciate the historical aspects of the story. While technically the book is a cozy mystery set in 1930s Britain, the main character, Lady Georgiana (“Georgie”) is a fictional member of the House of Windsor, 32nd (or so) in line for the throne. But because she is technically royalty, for propriety’s sake, she’s not allowed to work a normal job, even though she’s penniless. For the first probably quarter to half of the book, this was the primary conflict: Georgie had no allowance from her brother Binky (what is with these royal names, anyway? Binky was married to Fig, and another major character was named Wiffy), so she had to come up with ways to support herself, without the Queen (Queen Mary, that is) or any of her relatives finding out. She has several misadventures along these lines, during which time the Queen summons her to tea in order to commission her to spy on the Prince of Wales, David’s mistress, Wallace Simpson. (I must say, after reading The Matriarch, I thoroughly despised Wallace Simpson, and was glad that the author chose to portray her as rude and obnoxious also.) The Queen also vacillates between marrying her off to a Russian prince whom Georgie refers to as Fish Face, and sending her to be a Lady in Waiting to the elderly Princess Beatrice in the country, who never leaves her home. This makes Georgie even more anxious to make her own way in life.
All of this turned out to be just a setup for Georgie’s character and circumstances, though; the real plot began when the dastardly Gaston de Movil shows up at her house and tells her that he’d won her family’s home off of her father in a bet. Binky comes to London to visit, and shortly thereafter, Georgie discovers de Movil’s body, drowned in their bathtub–and Binky is nowhere to be found. Since Binky fled the scene and has such an excellent motive for murder, the police naturally presume that he did it; but Georgie knows that Binky faints at the sight of blood. There’s no way’s guilty. The rest of the story is her private sleuthing to determine the real killer, and his or her motive. Along the way, Georgie herself is targeted as well. And, of course, there’s a love interest: the dashing Irish royal (but equally penniless) Darcy Amara. He turns up to alternately help, hinder, or sweep her off her feet at several key moments.
It’s a fun read, particularly because Queen Mary, David, and Wallace Simpson are so spot-on, character-wise, from what I read in the Matriarch. Nothing super ground-breaking, but it’s a fun read. I understand this is a series, but not a chronological one—though Her Royal Spyness was the first. Georgie, I suspect, becomes an amateur detective a la Nancy Drew in all the others. I’ll probably listen to at least a few more.
My rating: *** 1/2