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review 2020-06-27 10:20
'Naughty In Nice - Her Royal Spyness #5' by Rhys Bowen
Naughty in Nice - Rhys Bowen,Katherine Kellgren

'Naughty In Nice' sees Georgie on another covert mission for the Queen, this time retrieving a small piece of art that no one wants to admit was lifted by a guest at Buckingham Palace. The mission takes Georgie to winter on the Riveria, where England's wealthiest escape the English weather and the dreariness of a country going through an economic depression, to party and gamble and do things that would be frowned upon if done back home in England.

 

While she's in Nice, Georgie becomes a model for Coco Chanel, is courted by a French Baron, is almost raped by an English industrialist, loses a stunningly expensive necklace belonging to the queen, finally gets to experience her mother's hospitality, gets arrested for murder and becomes a target for the real killer.

 

The book is full of colour and action. The plot turns out to be more complicated than it seems. Georgie is centre stage throughout but we see less than usual of her ensemble cast, although they all make an appearance. 

 

I liked the way Rhys Bowen displayed the extravagance of the wealthy against a back-drop of general poverty. The book opens with Georgie working in a soup kitchen in Victoria station, watching the rich walk by to catch the Boat Train as they head for sunshine and ease. This puts Georgie's first-class on Le Train Bleu from Paris to Nice into context. The rich come across as superficial, self-absorbed, unpleasant and completely unaware of the enmity that their behave produces in the people who service their lifestyle. 

 

The attempted rape, which takes place on a yacht, is described in a way that makes it clear that the would-be rapist, who would describe what he's doing as seduction, not rape, abuses a lot of women and takes his right to do this for granted. Georgie, once she understands the man's intentions, defends herself. I liked that the man's behaviour wasn't normalised and the Georgie didn't just brush it off. 

 

This was a sort of 'Winter Sun Vacation' episode in the series. It was fun but it also made aware of how much I dislike the people Georgie associates with. Le Train Bleu is gone and the Riviera is no longer the destination of choice but the rich are still with us and their behaviour hasn't changed.

 

As usual, my enjoyment of the story was enhanced by Katherine Kellgren's excellent narration. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

https://soundcloud.com/audible/naughty-in-nice
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text 2020-05-28 10:43
Reading progress update: I've listened 72 out of 552 minutes. - Le Train Bleu
Naughty in Nice - Rhys Bowen,Katherine Kellgren

This is my sixth 'Her Royal Spyness' novel (I know, this is the fifth in the series but I started out of sequence with 'The Twelve Clues Of Christmas' the sixth book in the series and I'm only now catching up). They've become a comfort read for me. Before Lockdown, I listened to them on long car journeys. I'm listening to this one while I sit idly in the garden (again) and try to remember what day it is.

 

The thing to love or hate about this series is that it's always the same cast of characters and the same sources of humour in each book. All that changes is the location and the task that Georgie has to accomplish. I'm just finishing the set-up part of the book and soon Georgie will be leaving the miserable London winter behind and travelling to Nice on the French Riviera.

 

Part of the charm of the series is seeing how this was done in 1931 when the elite travelled by boat train from Victoria and then by The Blue Train, an overnight luxury express train direct from Calais to Nice. 

 

 

Everything is different now, in this time of private jets. The boat train from Victoria Station stopped in 1980. I took it once in the Seventies as part of a school trip. It was battered and basic by that time but I still enjoyed it. All that's left of the old tradition now is the magnificent Le Train Bleu restaurant in the Garé du Nord in Paris, which is now a national monument. If you ever get to travel by Eurostar from London to Paris (which these days takes just over two hours) it's worth taking the time to look at this place.

 

 

I've only been to Nice on business on the way to a tech conference in Cannes (in the winter of course) and my luxurious travel was a seat on EasyJet, an economy airline that favours a bright orange livery and tiny seats, earning it the nickname SqueazyJet.

 

So I'm looking forward to seeing how these things were done by the wealthy in the thirties, while most people were struggling to feed themselves.

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review 2020-05-18 03:36
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs (Royal Spyness, #13)
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs - Rhys Bowen

The author starts this instalment with an apology in advance; the book is set in Africa - Kenya - during the late 20's/early 30's, a time when race relations and the views of the British Empire (as were the rest of the world) were shameful.

 

This had me braced for difficult reading, but I have to say, that was not the disclaimer I needed.  In true cozy style, Bowen acknowledged the dichotomy and inequality between white and black without really verbalising it.  What caught me unawares (and shouldn't have; I can only wonder if the pre-apology diverted me), was the casual references to hunting big game.  Of course it was a thing back then, and of course I should have seen it coming.  

 

The other unexpected part of the story was the behaviour of the upper class in Kenya; a risqué path for a cozy, but done well by the author, and based on actual events and a real person: Lady Idina Sackville.  Bowen closes with a short bibliography of texts she used in an effort to write about the times accurately.

 

All in all, another enjoyable instalment in a long-running series that has remained fairly strong throughout, balancing cheeky naiveté and interesting murder plots.

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text 2020-05-07 17:44
Reading progress update: I´ve read 100%
A Royal Pain - Rhys Bowen,Katherine Kellgren

The mystery is so-so and yes, there are some incredibly silly bits in this and I could have shoved Hanni in a ditch. But these books are also incredibly fun and Katherine Kellgren´s narration is excellent.

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text 2020-04-04 18:17
Reading progress update: I've listened 484 out of 484 minutes.
Her Royal Spyness - Rhys Bowen,Katherine Kellgren

This book has its flaws and it isn´t the stongest mystery I have ever read, but it made me laugh out loud several times while listening to it. It was a plain, good old fun from beginning to end.

 

I´m so glad that I listened to Katherine Kellgren´s fabulous narration. The various accents she is doing really brought this story to life for me and I don´t think I would have enjoyed this book as much would I have read it in physical form.

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