Lady Georgiana Rannoch is facing yet another a dreary winter in London. Despite her royal pedigree — she’s 34th in line to the throne of England — she has no income, and the worldwide depression in the wake of World War I has made it impossible for her to find work. What’s more, her brother Binky and his intolerable wife, Fig, have decided to close up their London house, which means Georgie will be essentially homeless. Fortunately, the queen comes to her rescue by sending her to the French Riviera on a secret mission: she must recover a stolen snuffbox, believed to be in the possession of one Sir Toby Groper. At first, Georgie is ecstatic to be in Nice, mingling with rich English pleasure-seekers and dashing French aristocrats. She even meets Coco Chanel, who asks her to model one of the looks from Chanel’s new collection. But then a priceless necklace is stolen and a man is murdered — and in the eyes of the French police, Georgie is the prime suspect! Can she clear her name by finding the real thief and murderer?
I’m really enjoying the Royal Spyness series, and this book (the 5th installment) is no exception. It’s a light, exuberant mystery that still manages to incorporate a lot of information about this time period. For example, the Prince of Wales and his paramour, Wallis Simpson, make brief appearances in the book, and there are also a few mentions of Hitler as he begins his rise to power in Germany. In addition to the setting, I enjoyed the plot of this book, which is a bit more substantial than some of the earlier books in the series. Georgie is a fun character, but she’s not really much of a detective; she tends to stumble onto the solution of the mystery rather than actually investigating or deducing anything. In this book, though, she actually does take some initiative and is able to put the pieces together — though not before her own life is endangered once more. All in all, I think this is one of the better installments of the series, and I’m planning to continue with The Twelve Clues of Christmas in December!