Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen

Kudos to Rhys Bowen for her latest Royal Spyness mystery, The Twelve Clues of Christmas. It's a perfect story for the holidays, creating an atmosphere of an old-fashioned English Christmas in a country house. But, only if your holidays are filled with murder.

In December 1933, Lady Georgiana Rannoch is stuck in Scotland with her brother and his unbearable wife, Fig. Georgie stayed to keep Fig company because she was so depressed following the birth of her baby. But, Georgie now faces a terrible fate for the holidays. Fig's mother and family are starting to arrive at Castle Rannoch, and the atmosphere is only going to get worse. She has no place to go, so she answers an ad for a hostess for a house party. Lady Camilla Hawse-Gorzley is delighted to have Georgie there. It looks so good to have someone in the line of succession, even if Georgie is only 35th in line for the throne. And, Tiddleton-under-Lovey is an enchanting village in Devon. Georgie might actually have a nice Christmas, and her mother and grandfather are even spending time in the village.

It looks like it will be a delightful party, even if the guests are somewhat unusual. Georgie couldn't be happier when she learns her beloved Darcy O'Mara will be there since he's a cousin of Lady Hawse-Gorzley. But, Georgie's dreams of romance are overshadowed by a bitter pill. Darcy is the son of Lord Kilhenny, and he's Catholic. Since Georgie is in line for the throne, she can't marry a Catholic.

Before long, Georgie has more troubling things on her mind, though, than her doomed romance. Upon arriving, she learned the police were investigating an unfortunate accident, the death of a neighbor who shot himself while in a tree. On day two, a man falls into Lovey Brook and dies. As the death count mounts, the police investigator blames the unusual deaths on three escaped convicts. The villagers blame them on the Lovey Curse, the lingering story of a witch who cursed the village. And, Georgie has a nagging suspicion she should recognize a pattern.

As I said, kudos to Rhys Bowen. It wasn't until the eighth death that I recognized the pattern. And, I didn't guess the killer. Bowen fills the book with all the charm of an English Christmas, relating the customs of pantomime, charades, Christmas games and holiday food. The book includes a few recipes and directions for games. Best of all, though, it includes Georgie, and a clever killer. The Twelve Clues of Christmas is a fun kick-off to holiday reading. (And, Rhys Bowen reminds everyone that it would make a wonderful gift for the mystery lover in the family.)

Rhys Bowen's website is She can be found on Facebook or blogging with the other authors of Jungle Red Writers.

The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen. Berkley Prime Crime. 2012. ISBN 9780425252789 (hardcover), 311p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would read it.


Harvee Lau said...

One I'd love to read the Christmas. I enjoyed Her Royal Spyness.

Lesa said...

I spent a great deal of time talking about this book with a friend, Harvee. We agreed it was a terrific mystery, and not at all like many Christmas books. It's a good Christmas read, and a good mystery.

Jane R said...

Already have it on reserve at my branch library. Perfect timing for the holidays too. This is a great series and it's good to know that it's continuing to be a series to look forward to. Thanks for the update. Have a great Sunday!

Libby Dodd said...

Finished the book last night. A delightful read. This is a wonderful series. I look forward to many more.

Lesa said...

It is perfect timing, Jane. I wasn't up-to-date with the series, but a friend said it ranks right up there with Naughty in Nice. Libby, I'm glad you enjoyed it, too!

Rhys Bowen said...

Thank you for the kind review, Lesa. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. It was a pleasure to see you at Poisoned Pen, inspite of the threatening rainstorm!

Kimberlee said...

I cannot wait to get my hands on this latest by Rhys Bowen. I absolutely love this series. My library doesn't have it yet and it's driving me nuts. Great review.


Karen C said...

Adding to the list - sounds like fun!