Book Review: The Last Mrs Summers by Rhys Bowen

September 4, 2020 Book Reviews 0

Book Review: The Last Mrs Summers by Rhys Bowen

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Last Mrs Summers by Rhys Bowen
Series: Her Royal Spyness #14
Genres: Historical, British, Cozy, Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Published by Berkley Books on August 4, 2020
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also in this series: Heirs and Graces

Also by this author: Heirs and Graces, Queen of Hearts, Malice at the Palace, Crowned and Dangerous, On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service, The Tuscan Child, Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding, Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

Fourteenth in the Her Royal Spyness historical cozy mystery series and revolving around Lady Georgiana Rannoch, er, I mean, Mrs Darcy O’Mara, who heads out to Cornwall in 1935.

My Take

It’s such a relief that Georgie is finally married…with a house! I’ve worried about that girl, living pillar to post. Although, I don’t understand why Georgie thinks she won’t be seeing Queen Mary anymore — yes, Bowen is using first person protagonist point-of-view from Georgiana’s perspective, so we know all Georgie thinks, feels, and sees. But she is still family, even if she is out of the line of succession.

It’s a story that’s character-driven and₊heavily influenced by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and hoo-boy, they are some characters. That Uncle Francis is such a snake. As for Jonquil, she deserved it! Tony. I feel sorry for him, but not very much. Rosie…yeah, I’m with Belinda, I don’t like her either. As for these Cornish, they sure are quick to believe Belinda is guilty!

I do appreciate that Queenie has saved Georgie’s life, but she’s such a useless maid! The exact opposite of Mrs Mannering who is so incredibly efficient, but soooo condescendingly snooty. I do wonder if Georgie does find a real cook…

Oooh, Jago has a crush on Belinda…only he’s NOCD. Still…

Hmm, Lady Georgiana is growing in her character arc, at last, making a small step toward authority. I don’t understand, however, the point of her dreams.

I can understand selling a huge house like Trengilly Manor, but why on earth would Lady Knott buy White Sails??? Ah, wait a minute, it seems that the cottage had been part of Trengilly. I gotta say that cottage is a nightmare, and I have no idea why Belinda even considers keeping it.

Why didn’t she call Zou Zou or her Grandad before she left Eynsleigh? I can understand Georgie not telling the cops every little thing, but there is so much that she left out. Why didn’t she go back and get that bit of toweling? Why didn’t she tell the cops about the wagon? How come she forgot about Old Harry? Nor have I been impressed with Georgie’s and Belinda’s decisions. Setting out and pushing through to Cornwall, not knowing anything about the cottage? As for Georgie’s decision to leave Trewoma Hall so late in the day?? Duh.

It’s a sad tale with stupid decisions and filled with a life of betrayals, death, and cruelty that leads to vengeance and murder.

The Story

Poor Georgie is at loose ends, newly back from her honeymoon with Darcy off on another mission.

Fortunately Belinda is on a mission — checking out the cottage her grandmother left her. It’s a journey that takes her back to her childhood and childhood friends…not all of them friendly.

One where she’s framed for murder and only Georgie there to untangle the mystery.

The Characters

Lady Georgiana O’Mara is at loose ends as a married woman with Eynsleigh, a manor in Sussex, to run. Being married to a Catholic, she had to renounce her position in the line of succession. The daughter of a duke, she’s also a cousin, once-removed, to the current king. The Hon. Darcy O’Mara is her new husband with a mysterious career. Sir Herbert Anstruther, an ex-husband of Claire’s, a decent man, and a mountaineer explorer, actually owns the house, and he wants to adopt Georgie. Grandad (on Mummy’s side) is busy helping wayward youths avoid lives of crime. Claire, a former actress, is Georgie’s very self-absorbed mother who ran back to Max Von Strohheim, a very wealthy German who is too thick with the Nazis.

Queenie has “graduated” from personal maid to cook of the basics. Darcy has family in Ireland who appreciated Queenie’s help. Phipps is the footman. Mrs Holbrook has been reinstated as the housekeeper. Maisie has taken Queenie’s place as her personal maid. A great improvement. Emily is a parlormaid.

The Queen’s Head is a pub in the village of Eynsleigh.

Belinda Warburton-Stoke is Georgie’s dearest friend who has inherited Lady Knott‘s, her grandmother’s, entire estate. Spingo had been Granny’s dog. Sir Francis Knott, Granny’s brother and Belinda’s uncle, is a thieving, lying, pervert. Brutus is what Belinda has named her new car, an Aston Martin Le Mans. Her father married a witch, Sylvia. Hextable is her father’s unhelpful butler. Mr Haversham is Belinda’s solicitor.

Cornwall

Mr and Mrs Trevelean run the Smuggler’s Inn, a pub near White Sails. Mrs Briggs runs the post office. Dan Struthers is hearing things. Tony’s builder, Mr Harris, is in Wadebridge. White Sails is the cottage Belinda inherits.

The Cornish Constabulary
Constable Hood reminisces about the deaths of Henry Blakely and Tommy Hicks. Inspector Algernon Purdy of the Wadebridge branch seems fairly willing to accept what he is told. Simms is a scene-of-crime tech. Detective-Inspector Watt is from Scotland Yard. Constables Smith and Williams are there at the end.

Those childhood friends
Tony Summers and Jonquil led them. Belinda didn’t like Jonquil then, either. Jago is the estate manager for the new owner of Trengilly Manor. The sneaky Rosie had not been particularly athletic. Colin Huckerbee was barely accepted.

Trewoma Hall is…
…the local stately home, lived in by the Trefusises since the fourteen hundreds, is now owned by Tony Summers, a childhood friend of Belinda’s. Tony is now married to his second wife, Rosie Barnes, the cook’s daughter. Rosie’s mother parlayed a parting gift from Lady Knott into a café in Bath. His first wife, the snooty Jonquil Trefusis, had been the heir to the Hall until she fell to her death. Her parents, Ferrers Trefusis was a friend of Francis’, died in a plane crash in the West Indies.

Mrs. (Alice) Mannering is the oppressively efficient housekeeper who had been Jonquil’s nursemaid. James is a footman. Trevor Trelawney is a gardener and Elsie Trelawney, his sister, is an upstairs maid. The servants who were let go include Gladys and Margie and Will Stokes. Old Harry knew too much.

Trengilly Manor had been…
…owned by Lady Knott and where Belinda had spent so many summers. Now it’s owned by Panopolis, a Greek. His guests include Helga von Dinslaken, Baron von Stresen, Señor Arguello, Mrs and Mrs Greenslade, and Mr O’Connor.

Georgie’s family
Binky is her brother, the Duke of Rannoch, in Scotland. His nasty wife, Fig, hates Georgie. Queen Mary has had Georgie do some odd “jobs” for her in the past. David, the Prince of Wales, is another cousin.

Mrs Huggins, Grandad’s special friend died. Zou Zou, formally known as the Princess Zamanska of Poland, is a good friend of Georgie’s. Clotilde is her French maid. Oswald Mosley is active.

The Cover and Title

The cover is dark as befits Trewoma Hall. We stare down a long, dark hallway with matching rugs lit by two pair of candelabra and three candle-laden chandeliers. Sheer curtains are blowing and a dark, long-gowned figure stands silhouetted in the far arched doorway. Lady Georgiana, her blonde hair in a wavy bob, is standing in three-quarter profile, looking back over her shoulder, wearing a deep violet dressing gown, and holding a candlestick. The author’s name is at the top in yellow with an info blurb in white between her first and last names. Immediately below to the right of the chandeliers and above Georgie’s head is a testimonial in white. At the bottom is a colonial blue picot-edged yellow ribbon forming the background for the title in the same deep blue of the walls with the series info below it in black. The same picots appear on an angle in the top corners.

The title is quite the tease and kept me wondering how it would turn out for The Last Mrs Summers.

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