Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Blood Royal
A Joe Sandilands Murder Mystery - Book VIII
Barbara Cleverly

Constable (Constable and Robinson)
3 November 2011 / ISBN: 9781849019965
Historical Mystery / 1922 /London
Amazon US - UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

When two gunmen murder Admiral Lord Dedhan outside his home, it looks as though the Fenians are at it again. Commander Joe Sandilands has recently returned from India and impresses everybody at Scotland Yard with his mixture of diplomacy and derring-do. WPC Lily Wentworth also has talent and ability, but cuts dictate that she is going to get made redundant; not being upper class is not in her favor. But Joe has seen her in action and is impressed, so it looks as though she will be hanging onto her job for a while longer. Not only that, but Cinderella is about to go to the ball with a real prince…

Habitual visitors to this site will know that Ms Cleverly is one of my favorite historical mystery writers. Her mix of classic whodunit, exotic locations, exciting action and surprising plot twists make for very enjoyable reading. This book takes us back in time four years from the end of the last book, when Joe was newly arrived in England and all set for a starry career as a Scotland Yard hero. Usually he takes center stage, but this time that role belongs more to his new sidekick, Lily. What follows is a Cinderella story that at times feels more suitable for a romance, although this is in no way a romantic book. Joe is seen in this book as an impressive but often distant figure, a mixture of war hero, diplomat extraordinaire and aristocratic adventurer. Lily is a girl from an ordinary background but with more than ordinary talent who is suddenly propelled into the limelight.

All this would have been better if the story was not so very long, with rather more talk about action than action itself. This has the effect of slowing down the story so that it loses too much momentum and is often hard to engage with. I imagine that such a talented author as Ms Cleverly is trying out a slight twist on her usual style as she did in Bright Hair About The Bone (also reviewed on this site) so I conclude that it will be interesting to see what she does next.

Reviewed 2012