Although Lady Georgiana is still as candid as ever, the latest Royal Spyness mystery takes a serious turn. Rhys Bowen takes Georgie to pre-World War II Italy in On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service.
When Darcy O'Mara has to leave the family estate in Ireland for another mysterious assignment, Georgie is bored there. It's only when she receives a letter from her friend, Belinda, in Italy, begging for company, that she has a place to go. But, before she can leave, she must have tea with Queen Mary who has it in her power to recommend to Parliament whether Georgie, thirty-fifth heir to the throne, can marry the Catholic Darcy. That trip to Italy plays right into the queen's hands. It seems, David, the Prince of Wales, and that woman, Wallis Simpson, will be attending a house party in the same area. Queen Mary says she will have Georgie invited so she can ensure that Mrs. Simpson doesn't already have her divorce. She doesn't want a surprise wedding in the family.
While Georgie's travels start with humor, from traveling without a maid to a man in her sleeping compartment, it isn't all lightness when she arrives at the house party. While there have been meetings of the Allies in the nearby town, here at the party, there are a strange assortment of guests. Mussolini's top advisor is there, as are German officers. Even Georgie's actress mother is accompanied by her fiancé, a German arms manufacturer. And, there are whispers that Hitler "will make Germany great again." When one guest is murdered, Georgie knows the killer could be anyone in the house, even her own mother.
Will Georgie's mother be arrested? Will Darcy and Georgie receive permission to finally marry? There are all sorts of issues for future books. It's going to be interesting to see what direction Rhys Bowen takes the mysteries in the pre-war years. Even with the looming dangers, Georgie, who isn't quite as awkward, and is growing in confidence, is still delightful On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service.
Rhys Bowen's website is www.rhysbowen.com
On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen. Berkley Prime Crime. 2017. ISBN 9780425283509 (hardcover), 304p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.