Title: Queen of Hearts
Author: Rhys Bowen
Series: Her Royal Spyness Mysteries #8
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Summary (from Goodreads)
My mother, the glamorous and much-married actress, is hearing wedding bells once again—which is why she must hop across the pond for a quickie divorce in Reno. To offer my moral support, and since all expenses are paid by her new hubby-to-be, Max, I agree to make the voyage with her.
Crossing the Atlantic, with adventure in the air and wealthy men aboard, Mother all but forgets about Max and matrimony—especially when movie mogul Cy Goldman insists on casting her in his next picture.
Meanwhile, I find myself caught up in the secret investigation of a suspected jewel thief. Lucky for me, the lead investigator happens to be my dashing beau, Darcy!
Mother’s movie and Darcy’s larceny lead everyone to Cy’s Hollywood home, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin are hanging about and there’s enough romantic intrigue to fill a double feature. But we hardly get a chance to work out the sleeping arrangements before Cy turns up dead—as if there wasn’t enough drama already…
Er, inaccurate summary. There definitely isn’t enough drama. Drama is hard to come by in the entire first half of the novel. I was a good five hours into the audiobook before the murder happened, which meant that the drama rather relied on the sexcapades of various characters, including Charlie Chaplin, who was not portrayed in a very positive light!
To go with that was a cast of absolutely vapid characters. Even our heroine and hero were pretty boring, petty and driven by money. They can’t get married because Darcy wants to keep Georgie ‘the way she deserves’ – an excuse so ridiculous it has to be a forced reason to keep them apart. Because there really isn’t a good reason to keep them apart, except for perpetuation of the ‘romantic tension’ in later episodes of the series. Quote marks because there wasn’t really any romantic tension – Darcy was only in the book for about five minutes, and he didn’t do a great deal in that time.
There was some good intrigue with the story of the jewel thief, and a couple of mildly entertaining moments, but they were overshadowed by the fact that the characters were at best unmemorable, at worst unpleasant. If this is the eighth book of the series, I really don’t know how any reader has lasted this long with it.
An extra star for an excellent performance by Katherine Kellgren, but I’d avoid this unless you’re a massive fan.