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Love and death among the cheetahs
2019
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Author Notes
Rhys Bowen was born Janet Quin-Harkin in 1941 in Bath, England. She earned her bachelors degree from the University of London. Soon after graduation she worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation as a studio manager and writer. She then took a job working for a textbook company developing reading texts before writing her own books. Her first picture book - Peter Penny's Dance - was published in 1976 and changed her career to children's book author. The book earned praise and won numerous awards. In 1981 she wrote a teen novel entitled California Girl which became the first installment in Bantam's Sweet Dreams series. This series grew to include novels such as Love Match, Daydreamer, and Ten-Boy Summer. These Sweet Dreams books started a major trend in young adult publishing. they were praised as an encouragement to reading. Janet Quin-Harkin also authored non-series fiction for adolescents such as award winning novel Wanted: Date for Saturday Night and Summer Heat. She also wrote the young adult historical novels Madam Sarah and Fool's Gold. She then moved on to writng mystery novels whcih included her Constable Evans series. Her book Royal Blood made the New York Times Bestseller list. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)
First Chapter or Excerpt
Chapter 1 July 31, 1935 On a houseboat, outside Marlow, Bucks This is my first diary entry as Mrs. Darcy O'Mara. I can hardly believe it. We've been married three whole days now and frankly I haven't found much time for writing in my diary. We seem to have been awfully busy. . . . "You know what I really fancy right now?" I sat up, almost banging my head on the roof of the small cabin of our houseboat. I looked down at Darcy, who was lying beside me. Lying naked beside me, actually, but with a sheet draped discreetly over the important bits. It was a hot and muggy afternoon and we had been taking a rest from more strenuous activities (it was, after all, the fourth day of our honeymoon). Darcy opened his eyes slowly and they flashed with that naughty and sexy look I had always found so irresistible. "Really? Again? Already?" I slapped his naked shoulder. "No, silly. Not that. What I really fancy right now is a cucumber sandwich." "But we don't have any cucumber. Or any fresh bread." "Precisely." I sighed. We had been lent this houseboat on a deserted stretch of the Thames outside Marlow in Buckinghamshire and had escaped here right after the wedding. Darcy's pal who had offered his boat had also stocked it with all kinds of good things-oysters, smoked salmon, runny cheeses, chocolate, peaches and lots of champagne. In short, everything anyone would want after the stress of a wedding that included the king and queen, not to mention the two little princesses as bridesmaids. Amazingly the ceremony had gone off without a hitch. I had not caught my foot in my train and pitched onto my face halfway up the aisle. I had not dropped cake down my front. It had been wonderful, magical, the perfect start to a life of bliss ahead. And the houseboat had been a brilliant idea too. Nobody around for miles. No servants to intrude at awkward moments. Only a couple of cows behind a fence to spy on us. We had eaten, drunk, made love and repeated the aforementioned over and over. We had lain out on the top deck with a glass of champagne in hand and watched the stars. We had even seen shooting stars, which was remarkable so close to London. It had been absolutely perfect. But now reality was creeping in. We had eaten all the good food. The ice had melted in the icebox. The bread was stale. The chocolate had turned into a brown puddle. And we had no cucumber. This meant a long hike along the canal path to the nearest shop. Which was not particularly inviting, given that we were experiencing a heat wave, or that my maid, Queenie, had packed only my elegant shoes and not my summer sandals. The other alternative meant admitting the first stage of our honeymoon was over and we should return to civilization where cucumber sandwiches, a long soak in a real bathtub and changes of clothes awaited and I could wash my hair. The joys of living in primitive conditions are glorious, but one does miss basic comforts after a while. Also the height of the cabin ceiling and the doorway from the galley had meant several bruises on our heads. Neither of us had wanted to admit it, but we were ready to go home. Well, not home exactly. I wasn't ready to go back to Eynsleigh-the country house I had sort of inherited-back to life with my mother, my grandfather and Sir Hubert, much as I loved them all. I wasn't too keen to go over to Darcy's castle in Ireland, although it was certainly remote enough. I was not ready to stay with my brother and sister-in-law at Rannoch House in London. Golly-can you imagine Darcy and me trying to have interesting sexual encounters knowing that my sister-in-law, Fig, was listening? Probably trying to peek through the keyhole? It would inhibit my sexual freedom for life! The same would be true for our friend Zou Zou, the Princess Zamanska, in whose elegant London home we were always welcome. She wouldn't mind what we got up to in bed. She'd probably even offer suggestions. But none of the above seemed right at the moment. It was our honeymoon. We were supposed to be alone, getting to know each other without outside interference. Before we married, Darcy had actually promised that he would take care of the honeymoon. "Don't worry. I have it in hand," he had said. Somewhere wonderful and exotic, he had said. I didn't like to say anything, because I knew he didn't have oodles of money to fly me around the world. But at this moment I was wondering whether these four days on a boat outside London were it-my entire honeymoon. All I had to look forward to. I hadn't even had a chance to wear my new silk knickers! Darcy was still looking up at me. "So what do you think?" he asked. "Have we had enough of seafaring life?" I laughed. "You can hardly call a houseboat moored to the bank of the Thames 'seafaring.' But yes, I am finding it a little confining. I'd love a proper bath and not in the river and I really would love a cucumber sandwich." "So you want to go home?" "I suppose so. What about you?" He sighed. "I admit, I have banged my head on that bloody doorway one time too many." "Are you allowed to swear in my presence now that we're married?" I asked with mock primness. "Oh absolutely. Abso-bloody-lutely." He laughed and wrestled me down to the bed again. "I have to make sure you don't start turning into your great-grandmother now that you are married." "But she adored Prince Albert. They had the happiest marriage in creation." "But she was also not amused by a risquZ joke," he pointed out. "Although some do say she had a fling with her Scottish chappie, Mr. Brown." "It was hardly a fling. She was seventy-something, wasn't she?" I started to laugh. "Anyway." Darcy turned me toward him and stroked back my hair. "You're going to have to put up with me as I am, including my faults, of which occasional swearing is one. And we'll be as happy as Victoria and Albert and have at least nine children." "Nine?" "You like children, don't you?" "Yes . . . but nine?" He laughed and ruffled my hair. "We're going to have a lot of fun, Georgie. Life is going to be an adventure." "I hope so." I nestled up against his naked chest, feeling safe and secure for the first time in my life. I hadn't really thought about it before but my mother bolted when I was two. My father spent his time in Monte Carlo and eventually killed himself. I was never allowed to see my nonroyal grandfather. I had a kind nanny and then a strict governess but nobody who clearly loved me and cherished me. And now I did. I was wife of the Honorable Darcy O'Mara, heir to Lord Kilhenny of Ireland. I would still retain my own title and be addressed as Lady Georgiana because I was the daughter of a duke. It was all very satisfactory. I sat up again. "So, talking of adventure, do we have something planned after this? And you'd better not tell me that you've been called away on some kind of hush-hush assignment." (I should mention that my husband doesn't have a proper job but he does seem to be whisked away to strange parts of the globe doing something for the British government. He won't exactly tell me what he does.) "There won't be any more hush-hush assignments now, Georgie," he said gently. "I told you that they offered me a desk job at the Foreign Office." "But you don't really want it, do you?" I gave him a worried look. "It's more fitting for a married man, isn't it? We'll start having children. It's important that their father is at home. It's important for you that I'm there." "Let's not talk about it now," I said. "Let's not worry about the future, except perhaps where we are going to go when we leave this boat." "We could go back to Eynsleigh," he said. "It's got lovely grounds. We could maybe persuade your godfather to put in a swimming pool." "I agree it is lovely, but it also has my mother and grandfather in residence as well as Sir Hubert and the servants. Mummy will surely be barging in on us and we'll have no privacy. Besides, Eynsleigh is where we'll live from now on. It will be going back to real life and I'm not ready for that yet." "Then what are the alternatives?" he asked. "We could always pop over to Kilhenny Castle. I know my father would like that. Zou Zou might be there too." "Precisely," I said. "And your crazy aunt and uncle . . . too much family too soon." "I presume that also means your brother and sister-in-law." "Certainly not Rannoch House with my darling brother and sister-in-law," I replied, more sharply than I had intended. "I mean, they were jolly nice to host our wedding reception, but I can only take Fig in very small doses." "We haven't looked at our wedding presents yet," Darcy reminded me. "We should at least put in an appearance and arrange to have them shipped down to Eynsleigh." "Yes, I suppose we'd better do that. Actually that will be rather fun, won't it? I'm dying to see what we have been given, aren't you?" "I'd say Eynsleigh is quite well furnished right now," he said. "I can't think what we still need." "It would be nice to start life with one's own china and silver, wouldn't it?" He made a face. "I suppose women do think that way. For me, as long as I have a plate to put my food on I don't care if it's Royal Doulton or tin." "You're awful," I said as he grinned at me. "Less than four days married and you are calling me awful," he sighed. "I guess the honeymoon really is over." "Oh golly, I hope not," I said. "I thought we might be going somewhere special." "You don't consider this special?" "It was absolutely lovely," I agreed. "Perfect, in fact, but I had hoped for a little longer time on our own. I'm not ready to face Fig and my mother and the world." "We'll go somewhere else, I promise," he said. "But at this moment . . ." "You don't have anything else planned, do you?" He could hear the disappointment in my voice. I was about to remind him that he had proclaimed, in front of witnesses, that he had a wonderful honeymoon surprise for me. Was this it? I wondered. I knew I should be grateful. There were plenty of people in this world who worked in factories or were out of work, standing in soup lines with no hope of the sort of life we took for granted. Time to grow up, Georgie, I thought. "I have a few things that need sorting out first," Darcy said. "You just need to be patient." I managed a bright smile. "All right," I said. "We'll go and look at our wedding presents at Rannoch House. If we hurry we'll be in time for tea and I know Mrs. McPherson will make cucumber sandwiches." Chapter 2 July 31 Rannoch House, Belgrave Square, London W.1. Back to the real world. Sigh. I wish our delicious bubble could have lasted longer. I mustn't show myself to be disappointed that Darcy hasn't managed to wangle a long, exotic honeymoon for us. I'm sure he tried. And I do have the rest of my life to be with him! "Welcome home, my lady." My brother's elderly butler, Hamilton, beamed at me as I stood at the front door of Rannoch House on Belgrave Square. "I was not informed that you were returning so soon or I'd have had the maids air out your room." "Hello, Hamilton." I smiled back at him. "You weren't to know. It was an impulsive decision on our part, due to a sudden desire for cucumber sandwiches." "Indeed? Then let me go and inform Mrs. McPherson immediately that sandwiches are requested and I'll have them brought out to the terrace, where Her Grace is currently awaiting her tea. Would you like me to go through and announce you?" "I think we can find our own way, thank you. Please go and arrange the sandwiches." Hamilton nodded to Darcy, who had just joined me after paying the taxicab driver. "Welcome, Mr. O'Mara," he said. "If you leave the bags there, I'll have them taken up for you in a jiffy." "Thank you, Hamilton," Darcy said. "Good to see you looking so fit." "It's the fine weather, sir. It works wonders for my rheumatics after Castle Rannoch, which does tend to be just a tad damp and cold." He gave a little nod of a bow before retreating belowstairs. Darcy slipped an arm around my shoulder as we went through the front hallway. "If only we manage to find a butler like Hamilton," he muttered. "They are in short supply, I'm sure," I whispered back. "They don't make them like that anymore." We opened the door to the ballroom at the back of the house. The room itself was not often used but it had French doors that opened onto a lovely terrace beyond. That was rarely used too, given the normal English summer weather. But we had held our wedding reception out there and jolly nice it had been too. The French doors were now open to the terrace and someone was sitting in a deck chair. Darcy gave me a little push. "You should probably be the one to let your sister-in-law know we are here." "Coward," I hissed. He grinned. "Just following protocol. It wouldn't be right for a mere son of a baron to precede the daughter of a duke onto a terrace." I stuck my tongue out at him and stepped from the darkness of the ballroom into the blinding sunlight. Fig was reclining in a deck chair, wearing shorts and a halter top of a rather lurid shade of pink, which matched the color of her skin and made her look like a large cooked prawn. "Hello, Fig," I called cheerily. She sat up, startled, blinking at me. "Good God, Georgiana. We weren't expecting you so soon. Ah well, don't say I didn't warn you." "What on earth do you mean?" "Well, the marriage is obviously over. You've discovered the truth about your husband and his depraved habits. I knew you would. One has heard rumors, you know." Excerpted from Love and Death among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Darcy O' Mara (Male), Married, Goes on an extended honeymoon to Kenya; searches for a upper class thief
Victoria Georgiana Charlotte "Georgie" Eugenie (Female), Heiress, Married, 35th in line for the English throne; great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria; travels to Kenya for her honeymoon
Genre
Fiction
Mystery
Historical
Topics
Murder investigations
Search for truth
Aristocracy
Upper classes
Honeymoons
Setting
Kenya - Africa
Time Period
1930's -- 20th century
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Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

Set in 1935, bestseller Bowen's disappointing 13th Royal Spyness mystery (after 2018's Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding) finds Lady Georgiana Rannoch, a distant relative of the royal family, finally married to Darcy O'Mara, who performs shadowy work on behalf of the British government. After an enjoyable honeymoon in England, Darcy reveals plans to extend the post-wedding celebration in Kenya, where he has been asked, as he admits on arrival, to find the jewel thief responsible for "several daring and spectacular burglaries in London" targeting high society. The community of expats provides a pool of suspects. Darcy's investigation takes a more serious turn when he and Georgiana come across a body that has been mauled by wild animals, which he believes is that of a murder victim. Much of the humor in previous volumes originated with Georgiana's inept and clumsy maid, Queenie, who remains offstage. As in her Molly Murphy series, Bowen struggles to transition her lead into married life without detracting from what made that lead memorable. Fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
Georgie is excited when Darcy announces out of the blue that they are flying to Kenya for their extended honeymoon. It is only after they arrive that she suspects he has actually been sent there on an assignment. She tries not to be angry, because she is, after all, in a paradise!<br> <br> They are picked up in Nairobi and taken to a lovely house in Happy Valley--the center of upper-class English life there. Darcy finally confides that there have been some spectacular robberies in London and Paris, and it is suspected that the thief was a member of the aristocracy and may have fled to Kenya.<br> <br> Georgie is shocked at the completely decadent lifestyle that involves wild parties and rampant infidelity. One of the leading lights in the community, Lord Cheriton, makes a play for Georgie. She rebuffs him. Then he is found dead along a lonely stretch of road. At first it seems to be a lion attack. But why was he on that stretch of road, alone, late at night? It seems the Happy Valley community wants to close the case, but as Georgie and Darcy investigate, almost everyone has a motive to want Lord Cheriton dead.
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