Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, humor, plot in second half
Cons: Slow to get started
The Bottom Line
A slow beginning
But well worth it in the end
Georgie entertains

Nice Addition to the Series

What do you do when you are trained only to properly host a dinner party yet have no husband or job to support yourself?  That's the problem that has been facing Lady Georgiana, 34th in line for the throne of England in the 1930's, since book one of this mystery series.  She manages to find ways to cope for a few months at a time, but those often get her involved in dangerous situations.  The latest of those is the slow to get started Naughty In Nice.

January of 1933 finds Lady Georgiana (Georgie for short) wishing she could travel to the French Riviera like so many of her class are doing.  That longing only intensifies when the rest of her family manages to find a way to go and plans to ship her back to Scotland so they can close up the London house.

Then the Queen comes through, asking Georgie to head to Nice and find a snuffbox that was stolen from Buckingham Palace.  Her Majesty even thinks she knows who stole the box.  Delighted with what seems like a simple task, Georgie sets out.  But she quickly gets involved with a fashion show, stolen jewelry, and murder.  Is she in over her head?

These books are filled with delightful characters.  You can't help but like Georgie herself.  She is so clumsy and naïve that she is endearing.  Despite the setting of Nice, many of the series characters put in substantial appearances, and they are fun as always.  Okay, so some of the characters are fun to hate, but I still enjoy seeing them.  The new characters are interesting and provide some nice suspects.  And there are a healthy dose of real people running through the book, which makes the setting feel very real.  The only character I'm not crazy about is Queenie, Georgie's incompetent maid.  Even then, she's not all bad and she is a minor part of the book, so it's not too bad.

Where the book struggles is the plot.  Since Georgie starts the book in London with no way to leave, the purpose of her trip and how she gets there has to be set up.  Then, once in Nice, the rest of the plot has to be set in motion.  As a result, it takes a while before things really get started.  Then there's a sub-plot in the book that is predictable from the first time it shows up.  I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy spending time with the characters, but it would have been nice if the story really got started sooner.

But once the main plot gets going, the book gets very interesting.  The main mystery has some nice twists to it, and I never saw the ending coming.  Georgie does a nice job of sorting everything out, however.  She's becoming a good detective.

And it's hard to complain too much about the slow start since the series has always been light.  Georgie's actions usually provide several good laughs per book, even for someone who doesn't like watching people make fools out of themselves.  Maybe that's why I am more patient with these books than with others that start this slowly.

Despite my complaints, I enjoy spending time with Lady Georgiana enough that I will definitely be back for her next case.  I just hope she finds herself caught in a mystery a little sooner than she did in Naughty In Nice.

If you enjoy some history with your mystery, you'll want to read all the Royal Spyness Mysteries in order.

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