Book: A Royal Murder
Author: Verity Bright
Pub Day: February 28th 2022
Listen to a sample here:https://soundcloud.com/bookouture/a-royal-murder-by-verity-bright-narrated-by-karen-cass
At the royal boat race there are beautiful barges, plenty of bunting, a handsome prince and… is that a body in the water? Lady Swift is on the case!
Spring, 1923. One-time adventurer and now amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor Swift is attending the annual royal regatta with her new pal Tipsy Fitzroy. Tipsy has Eleanor trussed up like a debutante in a new dress, determined to turn her into a proper society lady. Even Eleanor’s favourite companion, Gladstone the bulldog, has a new outfit for the occasion.
But the sparkling prize-giving ceremony is interrupted when the devilishly handsome host gulps his glass of champagne on stage and collapses to the floor. The victim is none other than the king’s cousin, Lord Xander Taylor-Howard. He was rumoured to be entangled in a rather dubious gambling ring, but did someone kill him instead of collecting his debt? Or was this simply an ill-timed tragic accident? Either way, a right royal scandal is afoot…
Sir Percival, the head of the royal police, asks Eleanor for her help investigating. He’d do anything to keep the story under wraps. She knows it will get her into hot water with a certain dapper Detective Seldon, but she’s determined to see justice done. However, as she digs deeper, she learns Lord Taylor-Howard was hiding more than one murky secret. It isn’t until she takes a closer look at the unfortunate royal’s shattered champagne flute that she stumbles upon just the clue she needs. But can she reel in the killer before her ship is sunk too?
A warm and witty 1920s mystery that cozy fans will just adore. Addictive reading for fans of T E Kinsey, Lee Strauss and Agatha Christie.
Surprise! I’m starting in the middle of a series again! That being said, I simply adore Lady Eleanor Swift.
Lady Swift finds herself pressed into service by Sir Percival, head of the royal police, to investigate the suspicious death of Lord Xander Taylor-Howard, a minor royal (eighteenth in line to the throne). Lord Taylor-Howard dropped dead in front of a crowd at the royal regatta, poisoned by the champagne he drank as he prepared to hand out awards to the winners. Turns out His Lordship was hiding a number of secrets, but which of them led to his untimely death? And who hated him enough to want him dead? His sister? An angry husband of one of the many ladies His Lordship dallied with? A Russian spy to whom he was providing information on the royal family?
Verity Bright crafts a delightful tale here. Eleanor – Ellie – is the type of lady I suspect I’d be – one not overly concerned with Keeping Up Appearances and Doing the Done Thing. Her so-called friend Tipsy has her work cut out for her, but she’s determined to convince Ellie to forget about her fondness for Detective Inspector Hugh Seldon and “bag” some wealthy, titled man. Ellie is interested in none of it, and I applaud her for it! Tipsy was so over the top, she almost seemed a caricature, but I’m sure there were women like that, for whom snagging the “right” gentleman was all that mattered.
Clifford, Ellie’s butler, would like to see her come more into her role as lady of the manor, and he encourages her to go along with some of Tipsy’s “suggestions” (Tipsy is very pushy). But ultimately, he knows Ellie isn’t ever going to fit entirely into the “proper lady” mold, and he assists in her investigation, often playing a pivotal role either in moving things forward or in keeping Ellie safe when she’s poking into corners someone doesn’t want poked in. I really like Clifford.
As with Tipsy, I find the Bright Young Things a bit shallow and kind of annoying. But they were a part of the time period, and they fit the setting of the story. Had Ellie taken up with any of that set, it would have been terribly disappointing!
The story has intrigue and action, tension and romance. I found myself wondering if Ellie would make it through this one unscathed! I’m anxious to read future entries in the series to see how the romance between Hugh and Ellie develops. It seems that they’ve made some progress on that front here, and I want to know how it turns out!
And oh, there is humor. The female servants at Henley Hall, the ancestral manor, make no secret that they all find Hugh dashing and handsome. The shenanigans they go through to lay eyes on him are quite entertaining. Gladstone, the family dog, is also a scene stealer. I want to give him skritches and pats and feed him treats, because he is a Very Good Boy! He also has a tendency to find the muddiest muck at the most inopportune of times, and it’s hilarious.
Is this profound literature? No. But it is a light, witty, clever mystery that lets me escape into another time and place for a while. And can’t we all do with more of those right now? It gets five stars from me.
Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy from Netgalley and Bookouture. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.
Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s.