I’ve always been an avid reader. My taste runs more toward fantasy and science-fiction, but I have read a bit of most genres throughout my life. In having read fairly widely, I have, like most readers, found which genres I gravitate toward—and which I shy away from—and it becomes easy to fall into the trap of seldom revisiting genres where I’ve been unlucky.
Last spring, I discovered an author whose genre is one of those I tend to avoid. Rhys Bowen is billed as a mystery author, and I typically don’t care for mysteries, apart from occasional forays back into the world of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories. I especially do not enjoy modern mystery novels unless they have, for example, a supernatural bent to them (e.g. Sookie Stackhouse).
I previously wrote about my love of the Bloody Jack series, the audio book versions of which are narrated by the incredible Katherine Kellgren. It was her narration talents that nudged me into checking out, a bit dubiously, Her Royal Spyness by Bowen, the first title in a historical mystery series of the same name.
Her Royal Spyness is a lighthearted series of mysteries focusing on a fictional heir to the throne of England in the 1930s who, much to her embarrassment at times, keeps falling over corpses. The books are light, fun reads with a wealth of fascinating historical details and often feature real historical figures.
After finishing the dozen titles in that series, I turned to Bowen’s Molly Murphy Mysteries series. These feature an Irish peasant girl who, in 1901, flees from the authorities in Ireland and ends up in New York City. There, she discovers she has a talent for solving mysteries and attempts to run her own detective agency, a profession very much frowned on for women at the time. The Molly Murphy books are a bit more serious than Her Royal Spyness, but no less engaging and fun for that. I absolutely adore them.
I rarely read historical fiction, and even more rarely mysteries, but I highly recommend both of these series, and Rhys Bowen in general, if you are looking for something light, fun, and full of wit and heart.