Naughty in Nice
Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 34th in line to British throne, returns in her fifth mystery. Eschewing the frigid temperatures of London, Scotland, and Transylvania that served as previous settings, Bowen takes pity on her penniless heroine and sends her to Nice in this outing. Once again, she’s on a mission for her cousin, the queen, this time to retrieve a snuffbox stolen by Sir Toby Groper. Groper is aptly named, and Georgie has an unpleasant encounter with him before fleeing. Naturally, she later finds him murdered in his pool and must convince the local gendarmes she’s innocent.
In this outing, the change of scenery does Georgie good. She’s befriended by none other than Coco Chanel, and her own flighty mother makes an appearance as well as her beloved granddad. Her mother and Wallis Simpson bare their claws at each other, and her horrid sister-in-law Fig gets her comeuppance when Chanel asks Georgie to model in her show. This normally light and frothy series takes a serious turn at the end, however, when Georgie meets her doppelganger and learns a family secret. Bowen adeptly captures the British class system in the early 20th century. Georgie lives by her wits and the good graces of her famous relatives. I look forward to reading how they next employ her.