Sep 23, 2011

Two Book Reviews: Naughty in Nice; and The Tale of Castle Cottage

These two cozies are English though written by authors in California and Texas. Naughty in Nice, A Royal Spyness Mystery by Rhys Bowen and The Tale of Castle Cottage: the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert are both nostalgic mysteries, one set in the 1930s when the British vacationed on the Riviera and hobnobbed with the rich and famous, and the other in the very early 1900s, when children's author Beatrix Potter lived and wrote about animals in the English countryside.

The Tale of Castle Cottage is a very cozy cozy, set in the English countryside, with various animals representing the inhabitants of a village in the English Lake District. Here Beatrix Potter spends her summer of 1913 working and renovating Castle Cottage, the place where she and her fiance William Heelis will live after they marry. Theft from the construction sites and the death of a carpenter are the meat of the mystery novel, and the romantic aspect is supplied by Beatrix's engagement, which is frowned on by her parents.

This cozy is for readers who have nostalgia for all things British and especially for Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and other children's stories. (My favorite character in the Potter stories was the hedgehog in The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle!)

In Naughty in Nice, a novel set in 1933, the main character is Lady Georgina (Georgie) Rannoch, a descendant of Queen Victoria. Georgie is a favorite of the current Queen Mary, wife of King Edward, who sends her to the Riviera to recover a valuable snuff box stolen from her by one Sir Toby Groper, an unscrupulous character living in Nice.

Famous persons of the day crop up on the Riviera. The Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson appear, and Georgie stays in her mother's villa with the famous designer Coco Chanel, who grooms her as a model for the Chanel collection of the season. When Sir Toby is murdered, however, Georgie finds herself a suspect.

I read eagerly through three-quarters of the book but balked at the spot where Georgie is arrested. This change in the plot didn't sit well with me for some reason, and I flipped through the rest of the mystery just to find how the book would end. I knew of course that the true criminal would be found and charged with the murder. Overall, though, I enjoyed the period setting, descriptions of the Riviera, historical tidbits, and the lively characters of Georgie and her mother.

The books were sent to me by the publisher, The Berkley Publishing Group, for possible review. My opinions are in no way influenced by my receiving complimentary copies of the books.


Karen Russell said...

I read so many books where the sleuth becomes the suspect that it doesn't even bother me anymore. But it is a VERY over-used plot device to try to rachet up the suspense.

Dorte H said...

So I am not the only foreigner to write English cosies ;)

The first one sounds very tempting, but I don´t like the sleuth-suspected-of-murder plot much either. Just like I grow ever so tired of series if the detective and his/her family are at peril in each and every volume.

Harvee said...

Karen: I guess that did bother me!

Dorte: You can join the Americans!

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

I don't really read cozies, but I may start! :)

Rhys Bowen sounds like quite a Welsh name... I'm guessing the author has Welsh ancestry somewhere.

Dawn said...

I definitely like the sound of The Tale of Castle Cottage :)

Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction and Contemporary Books

  Now reading:  The Last Rose of Shanghai  by Weina Dai Randel, December 1, 2021, was offered online as one of the First Reads. It's an ...