Five days into the 2015 Reading Challenge, I can cross off my first item —a mystery of thriller. Whooo-hooo!
Queen of Hearts is the eighth book in the Royal Spyness Mysteries series by Rhys Bowen. This is one of three mystery series that I look forward to reading the latest stories. Bowen's Royal Spyness Mysteries is set primarily in London in the 1930s. The protagonist is Georgie, the great grandaughter of Queen Victoria. She would become queen should King George and the 33 heirs before her were to die all of a sudden. So, it's very unlikely.
Georgie's formal name is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie. Her father, the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch, gambled all family's fortune away, so Georgie is broke. Because she's of royalty, she can't make a living for herself although she has tried. In the first book (and maybe the second, I can't remember), she secretly worked as a maid. Queen Mary likes Georgie and often sends for her to do some bidding, such as monitoring the behavior of the queen's son, the Prince of Wales, at a party in which Mrs. Simpson would be there. Georgie doesn't like to do it, but how can you say no to the queen.
In Queen of Hearts, Bowen does something different. Instead of basing Georgie's adventure around her royal family, Bowen has Georgie accompanying her glamorous stage actress of a mother to America, where her mom plans to get a secret divorce in Reno in order to marry her rich German lover. While crossing the Atlantic, Georgie's mom meets a fellow actress and her lover, the big-time movie director Cy Goldman. Both convince the mother to go to Hollywood to take part in Goldman's movie. The intrigue begins when an Indian princess' ruby is stolen and Georgie thinks she saw someone go overboard. Until the ruby went missing, Georgie learns that her boyfriend Darcy is on board to follow the trail of a thief for Scotland Yard.
The tension gets turned further up when Georgie, Mom, Goldman, Darcy, and a bunch of others stay at Goldman's fake castle on a hillside along the Pacific Coast. Goldman is killed and the killer is one of the guests. Was it Goldman's lover? His wife? One of the actors? By the way, anyone who has been, or knows about, Hearst Castle will recognize it as the model for Goldman's castle. Garish rooms are decorated with historical furniture, carpets, and such; Olympic size pools grace the grounds; and giraffes and other exotic animals wander here and there.
This was not my favorite title in the series, but I enjoyed it. I got three-quarters through the book before I flipped to the last chapters to find out who the killer was. No harm done. The ending didn't make sense until I went back and read forward again.
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