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Peril in Paris: A Royal Spyness Mystery


Peril in Paris: A Royal Spyness Mystery

Set in the 1930s, Rhys Bowen’s long-running Royal Spyness series has been treading a difficult line for several books now. Our heroine, Lady Georgiana “Georgie” Rannoch, aptly foreshadows the coming of World War II with ample references to political turmoil in Germany. And the latest volume is no exception.

PERIL IN PARIS finds a pregnant Georgie and her husband, Darcy, on a sort of babymoon in Paris. Of course, Darcy --- whose covert work for the British security services peppers the series --- is whisked off on assignment, and Georgie is left to fend for herself.

"The familiar cast of secondary characters...helps make this story a successful one."

Thankfully, Georgie’s best friend, the ever-fabulous Belinda Warburton-Stoke, is living in Paris and working at Chanel. Add in a politically polarizing coterie of German officials and their significant others, and this is sure to be one French odyssey that Georgie will never forget. Especially once accusations of murder fly her way!

The familiar cast of secondary characters (the delightful Belinda, Georgie’s exasperating and occasionally redeemed social-climbing mother, the scheming Wallis Simpson, who here gets a second chance in the audience’s eyes) helps make this story a successful one.

Where it comes up short, though, is in the execution of the tale’s evocative backdrop. Bowen has not yet fully addressed or come to terms with the fact that these characters are operating in a polarizing world. It’s frustrating to watch Georgie muck about on silly adventures when the stage is being set for the Holocaust and global devastation.

To be sure, few would have been aware of the exact nature of the impending horrors, but it’s hard to sympathize when we see Georgie continually utter “Oh, golly!” about world affairs or empathize when her mother gallivants off with her German industrialist fiancé once again. We know what’s coming, and the bubble in which these characters live --- even if contemporary attitudes might have been somewhat analogous in these times --- makes for a trying read.

Reviewed by Carly Silver on December 3, 2022

Peril in Paris: A Royal Spyness Mystery
by Rhys Bowen