Heirs and Graces (A Royal Spyness Mystery)
by Rhys Bowen
Cover Artist: John Mattos
Review by Verna Suit
Berkley Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425260029
Date: 06 August 2013 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
It's 1934 and the worldwide Depression hangs on. Young, penniless Lady Georgianna Rannoch once again finds herself with no roof over her head and no prospects for supporting herself. She turns to her cousin Queen Mary for help in finding a living, and is given an assignment that lands her in the lap of luxury.
Kingsdowne Place in mid-Kent is the home and estate of the current Duke of Eynsford. No subsequent heirs are in sight, however, until a previously unknown son of the Duke's late brother is discovered on a sheep station in Australia. Georgie's task is to help the new heir, Jack Altringham, learn the behavior and manners he will need to take his rightful place among the nobility. No one welcomes Jack's arrival except the Duke's mother, Her Grace the Dowager Duchess, who sees him as the only hope for keeping the title and estate from reverting to the crown.
Kingsdowne Place also has an assortment of other residents. Several down-on-their-luck relatives have been offered a home through the generosity of the Dowager Duchess. The Duke himself has invited a phalanx of arty young men to stay and help him write a play. Nearly everyone is dysfunctional and annoying in one way or another. And the future of nearly everyone will be affected either by the Duke's plans to transform the estate into a performing arts center, or by Jack's succession to the title. When the Duke is found murdered there are plenty of suspects.
Heirs and Graces is a true puzzler that will keep readers guessing, although clues are dropped along the way for those clever enough to pick them up.
Georgie's fiancÚ Darcy O'Mara appears on the scene, too, as the agent who was sent to find Jack in Australia and bring him to England. He helps keep Georgie's spirits up and acts as a second in her sleuthing.
This seventh in the Royal Spyness series is every bit as charming as the previous installments. In particular, it gives a nice close-up look at daily life in the magnificent home of a Peer of the Realm.