Rhys Bowen, The Twelve Clues of Christmas
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but Lady Georgiana Rannoch is anticipating a bleak, joyless Christmas at her brother’s estate in Scotland. Her sister-in-law Fig has made it abundantly clear that Georgie is an unwelcome burden, so Georgie begins to search for a way to escape for the holidays. Finally, the perfect solution lands in her lap: she is offered a job as social hostess for a large house party at an English country estate. Georgie jumps at the chance to get away from Fig (and make a little money in the process), especially when she learns that her mother will also be staying in the neighborhood. When Georgie arrives at the estate, she discovers that her employer is trying to stage the perfect English Christmas for a diverse group of paying guests. But the seemingly idyllic country village is soon plagued by a string of suspicious deaths. All of them appear to be accidents, but Georgie suspects that they could be murders. But what do the dead people have in common, and who in the village would be clever and ruthless enough to kill them?
I enjoyed this latest installment of the Royal Spyness series. It has all the fluffy fun of previous books, but the mystery is a bit more substantial compared to some of Georgie’s earlier adventures. I’ve always liked the series for its frothy tone and historical trappings, especially Georgie’s run-ins with real historial figures (for example, Noel Coward makes an appearance in this book!). But historically, the mystery plots themselves have been relatively weak. This one was more complex, with several different plot threads that all tied together in the end. Georgie’s personal life also progresses a bit in this installment, as she and Darcy finally profess their love for each other and begin to talk about marriage. I always want more Darcy in these books…he seems to come in for the sole purpose of ruthlessly kissing Georgie in corridors, but there are hints that he’s also involved in some sort of espionage. I’d love him to marry Georgie and take her along on his adventures! The series seems due for some sort of shake-up, and I’m interested to see whether the status quo will change in future installments.