Sunday, July 14, 2013

Book Review: The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness #6)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Charming characters and a cozy Christmas mystery
Cons: Georgie was slow making one connection
The Bottom Line
Christmas mystery
Perfect for this time of year
But always fun read

Old Fashioned English Christmas - Complete with Murder

Even though she writes three series, Rhys Bowen has never managed to write a Christmas mystery – until now.  For the sixth book in her Royal Spyness series, she sends Lady Georgiana Rannoch, thirty-fifth in line for the throne of England, on a quest to find The Twelve Clues of Christmas.

Lady Georgiana (Georgie to her friends), is a minor, fictional royal in the Great Depression era.  While trying to figure out ways to support herself, she keeps stumbling over dead bodies and other crimes.

Lady Georgiana is not looking forward to Christmas in 1933.  It looks like she will be stuck in the family castle in Scotland with her sister-in-law’s horrid relatives.  Then she sees an advertisement for a member of the English nobility to act as co-hostess of a Christmas house party.  She’s thrilled when she gets the job and sets out for the small village of Tiddleton-under-Lovey.

When she arrives, she finds the house in an uproar.  A man has died in their orchard from a self-inflicted gun shot while climbing a tree to pull a prank.  It’s unsettling, but when another body is found the next morning, Georgie begins to worry.  The locals are chalking it up to a curse, but is more happening?  Can she find the connection between the crimes?  Or are they even crimes?

Like all the books in this series, it is as much about life during the time as it is the mystery at hand.  This one started more quickly than the previous two in the series have, something I greatly appreciated.  I did begin to wonder if Georgie would ever make a connection I did early on, but she did, and her lack of making that connection was adequately explained, too.  From there, the plot took over and never slowed down.

Once again, Ms. Bowen manages to find convincing ways to get many of the supporting characters from the series into the new location.  I enjoyed seeing them again as always and watching their characters being developed.  Georgie herself is a charming main character and narrator.  Queenie, her maid, still needs a little time to grow on me, but I liked her by the end.  There are plenty of new characters, and they were adequately developed to fill their purpose in the story.

Over the course of the story, we also get introduced to the traditions of England during the time period.  I enjoyed seeing more about traditions I know of only in passing.  And in case you want to know more, there are explanations for most of them in the back of the book along with recipes for creating the treats yourself.

Those who enjoy the series and Rhys’ books in general will really enjoy The Twelve Clues of Christmas.  And it’s perfect for those looking for a Christmas mystery for this time of year.  You’ll want to just curl up and read.

And once you've enjoyed this Yuletide mystery, you'll want to go even further back in time and enjoy the rest of the Royal Spyness Mysteries in order.

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