Book Review: Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen

September 27, 2019 Book Reviews 2

Book Review: Love and Death Among the Cheetahs 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.

Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen
Series: Her Royal Spyness #13
Genres: Cozy, Mystery, Historical, Amateur Sleuth
Published by Berkley on August 6, 2019
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

Thirteenth in the Her Royal Spyness cozy historical mystery series and revolving around an amateur sleuth, Lady Georgiana Rannoch, er, I mean, revolving around the newlyweds, Mr and Mrs Darcy O’Mara, who are off to Africa for their honeymoon.

My Take

It’s a sweet start that too quickly devolves into Darcy lying. Which makes me wonder how often he’ll lie to Georgiana in the future. Hmmm. Nor does it take long before Georgie starts jumping to conclusions. I wanna smack her upside the head…

Bowen’s description of Georgie and Darcy’s trip from England to Kenya was fascinating, making me appreciate the difference between travel then and travel now. Although, it does sound more romantic, in the abstract. I’ve always wondered about the number of days it took to get from A to B and how often people in historical novels travel! When contrasted with today and our worries about getting to our own destinations as fast as possible…those yesterdays do seem better in some ways.

Hmm, there’s promise in Binky’s rebuke of Fig. No, it’s not much of one, but it’s the first time he’s not accepted her nastiness! And she is not a person I’d want to spend time with. She certainly isn’t interested in spending time with her son!

Bowen uses first person protagonist point-of-view from Georgiana’s perspective, so everything is colored through her thoughts. Not that the Happy Valley crowd’s antics need any crayons! They are something else. They treat the Africans like dirt and think they’re above everything, including murder. Although, I can’t fault them for not trusting the government…look at ours…

Action-wise, yeah, there’s plenty, if you’re into gossip, backbiting, and playing musical beds. I do like Diddy, though. She seems to have her head on straight. I also like the open hospitality in that people are willing to provide open-ended house room for guests.

Character-wise. Hoo, boy. Yep, they’re “characters” all right. And I wouldn’t want to know most of them. What a boring lot they are! It’s this along with Georgie’s naïveté and a lack of enthusiasm in the writing that left me wanting so much more.

The Story

It’s a desire to provide his Georgie with an amazing honeymoon that finds Darcy and Georgiana off to Africa.

It’s quite convenient as Queen Mary has given young Georgie yet another mission: to keep an eye on the rebellious David who is on a goodwill tour there. It seems, too, that Darcy also has a mission. Several, actually.

The Characters

Lady Georgiana is now married — it’s the fourth day of her honeymoon — to the Honorable Darcy O’Mara, the heir to the impoverished Irish Lord Kilhenny. Queenie is Georgie’s incompetent maid. Georgie’s mother is Claire, an ex-actress who married the duke and then bolted. Claire had been seeing Max von Strohheim, a German industrialist, but his mama objected. Granddad is Claire’s father, a retired policeman who lives in Essex. Darcy’s mother was a Chatsworth.

Eynsleigh is…
…the country house in Sussex that Georgie has sort of inherited from Sir Hubert, a former stepfather who prefers exploring to staying at home (Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding, 12). Mrs Holbrook is the housekeeper.

Georgie’s brother, Binky, the Duke of Rannoch, is married to the obnoxious Fig, and they have Rannoch House in London and the castle in Scotland. Podge is their son and heir. Adelaide is their two-year-old daughter. Hamilton is the butler. Mrs McPherson is the cook. Rose is a maid. Aunt Esmeralda is Fig’s relative.

King George (Georgie’s cousin) and Queen Mary are concerned about David, the Prince of Wales, who is still seeing that newly divorced (and mean) Wallis Simpson. Wallis refers to Lady Elizabeth as “Cookie”; Bertie is her stammering husband, a.k.a., the Duke of York. They have two daughters, the eldest is Elizabeth. Princess Marina, the Duchess of Kent, is expecting. Prince George is her husband.

Darcy’s Great-aunt Ermintrude has ghastly taste and talent. Zou Zou, the Princess Zamanska, is a friend of both Georgie’s and Darcy’s. Belinda is Georgie’s best friend.

Carter Patterson is a moving company. Roderick ?? is a rather good actor.

The Wanjohi Valley in Kenya is…
…near the Rift Valley and also known as Happy Valley. Freddie Blanchford, the polo-playing district officer, is an old friend of Darcy’s. Haversham, Freddie’s uncle, had been an assistant governor. Trained at Barts in London, Dr Singh is a Sikh and the local medico.

Diddy Ruocco is the widow of an Italian count, Giovanni, and she breeds horses. Cyril Prendergast is a houseguest who leads safaris and writes a gossip column for the Nairobi Times. Servants include Hakim. Squibs is the polo pony Georgiana will ride.

One of the original white settlers, Ross “Octopus” Hartley, a.k.a., Bwana Hartley, has recently become Lord Cheriton — and he admires Hitler. That admiration is quite consistent with his lousy personality. The title comes with an estate, Broughton, in England. He’s currently married to a rich American, Angel Trapp. His daughter, Rowena, is one of those “mean girls”. Rupert is Rowena’s equally mean twin brother. They’re Ross’ children through his first marriage to Lady Portia Preston. Joe is a young African man who works on the estate as Ross’ right hand man. Joe’s mother is a Masai.

Idina, Lady Sackville-Haldeman, has been through four or five husbands and is a rival with Georgie’s mother for the nickname “the Bolter”. She loves to give parties at her home, Clouds. Chris Langlands, a pilot, is Idina’s current lover. Servants include Farah.

Diddy’s neighbors also include Pansy and Harry Ragg; Major Tusker and Babe Eggerton, who live at Lancers (the major had been with the Bengal Lancers); and, Chops and Camilla Rutherford, who are all farmers. Party guests from Nairobi inlcude Pixie (he’s a representative of the Crown) and Diana Atkins and Mr and Sheila Tomlinsony. Tom, Lord Delamere, seems to be a decent sort and is David’s host.

Jocelyn Prettibone is a third son whose father has sent him out to Kenya to make his fortune. Van Horn is an Afrikaner in the diamond business who is here for a safari holiday. Or is he in real estate? Beryl Markham raises horses and has taken up flying.

Detective Inspector Windrush of the Nairobi PD will be investigating the murder.

The Masai are warriors who do not serve, but advise. Sammy is one of Tusker’s servants. The Handley-Page fleet includes the new Hannibal, a quite luxurious little biplane.

The Cover and Title

The cover is consistent with previous covers with the deep green ribbon at the bottom of the cover with its gold picot edges forming a background for the title (in a combination of a spare script and sans serif fonts in white) and the series information in a grassy green below the title. The author’s name is in the same deep green at the top with the grassy green info blurb inserted between her first and last name. A testimonial is immediately below that and to the left in a rusty brown. A single picot is angled in each of the upper corners. The image itself carries on with the woodcut effect with a heated blue sky as the sun sets behind the mountains in the distance. A man in grayish green khaki pants and shirt and wearing a hat stands next to an open-sided lorry, its canvas sides rolled up. One foot rests atop a pile of reddish brown luggage, as he looks toward our heroine in her own 30-ish khaki suit and pale rose blouse and gloves, her hands clasping her elbows. Georgie’s wavy blonde hair is parted on either side of her face with a stylish (and matching) cloche atop her head. It’s a suspicious and nervous look on her face, as she stands amongst a clump of green plants on the right side of the cover. A leopard in profile on the left looks towards her. The ground is a dry landscape of browns and dusty greens of few plants and two acacia trees.

The title is a reference to an incident while Georgiana and Darcy are on safari where they find Love and Death Among the Cheetahs.

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