The Blood Royal: A Joe Sandilands Murder Mystery

Written by Barbara Cleverly
Review by Jeanne Greene

In the ninth Joe Sandilands mystery (after Strange Images of Death, 2010), the handsome police commander is back on duty in London, where the 1914-1918 war has produced a different kind of crime and political miscreants mingle with common criminals.

When an outspoken opponent of Irish home rule is shot, Sandilands is on the lookout for a killer who may be a woman. She may also be Irish, but she speaks plummy English, and a mysterious Russian beauty has just arrived in London. What motivates the daring shooter? What if she aims higher, much higher, next time? How can Joe protect the royal family from assassins? He recruits a female sidekick, of course.

Joe is extraordinarily conscious of women’s rights for a military-trained policeman, but then he’s always been a paragon. He chooses Constable Lily Wentworth based on ability and availability. There are places a policeman cannot go – like the loo in Claridges, where Lily corners a suspect. There are things a policeman cannot do, like waltz with someone who needs protection on a dance floor. Lily acts as decoy, intelligent foil, and (almost) equal partner as they untangle a very tangled plot.

Plotting is Cleverly’s forte, but her characters are intelligent, and once you get used to the cadence, their witty dialogue fits the Twenties atmosphere. Barbara Cleverly mysteries are addictive, and The Blood Royal is highly recommended.