Hi, I’m Georgia Fenchurch, a quiet bookshop owner to my neighbors and customers while my close friends know me as a member of the Archivist Society’s group of private sleuths. It’s been over a year since the events of The Counterfeit Lady when I posed as the Duke of Blackford’s paramour to catch a thief. While I’ve seen the duke since then, I haven’t had the chance to work closely with him. Drat it.
That is about to change. A great-grandson of George III is marrying a great-granddaughter of a Russian tsar, and so the Russian princess has traveled to Scotland with the current tsar and his wife, who is Victoria’s granddaughter, to meet the English queen. On the way to London with her entourage and her groom-to-be after visiting the elderly Victoria, the Russian princess’s bodyguard is murdered.
The Russians are horrified at the danger to the Russian royal family and want the anarchists in the East End executed. Whitehall is afraid Victoria and the tsar are the targets of an assassin and order Scotland Yard to find the killer before anyone else dies.
The princess will be staying with the Duke and Duchess of Hereford in London since the princess and the duchess are both accomplished painters. When Whitehall calls in the Duke of Blackford, he calls me. This time I’m not to be his paramour, worse luck, but the Duchess of Hereford’s secretary and the English tutor to the Russian princess, who speaks no English.
Since I speak no Russian, we’ll have to get by in French.
The day after Princess Kira’s arrival, she tells me to be ready after luncheon to go to the National Gallery with her and act as her chaperone. She wants me to conduct her English lesson there. She leads me out through the back garden to the carriage house and out into the mews, where her fiancé is waiting – with Blackford. I’m glad to see Blackford, but I’m wondering how a woman who speaks no English can learn how to sneak out of the house in a single day. A question the princess refuses to answer.
The visit to the gallery goes well until the princess sends Blackford and her fiancé to get the carriage. Then she carries on a rapid conversation with a young woman in Russian, and as we leave, denies to me that the woman was even there.
When we return and try to sneak back into Hereford House, her chaperone, the aging Lady Raminoff, is waiting. A shouting match takes place in Russian which her hostess, the Duchess of Hereford, and I try to quiet. Once peace reigns again, the princess announces the next day her language lesson will take place in Hyde Park. I guess the young Russian woman will be there, too.
Lady Raminoff takes me aside, and once she figures out I’m not a party to the princess’s plans, offers me a great deal of money to spy on her for the chaperone. Since I’m already spying on all of them for the British government, I’m uncomfortable with this extra role. Tired of having to translate French all day and guess at what is said in Russian, I just wish they’d all speak English.
I’m afraid by the time I learn the Russians’ secrets, someone else will be murdered.
Want to know more? Kate will be giving away an autographed copy of The Royal Assassin, the third book in the “Victorian Bookshop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime to one lucky commenter. The first two books in the series are The Vanishing Thief and The Counterfeit Lady.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 22 for the chance to win the print copy. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.
About the author
The first books Kate Parker read as a child were Nancy Drew mysteries and her mother’s Agatha Christie novels, and now she can’t write a story without someone dropping dead by chapter five. After a lifetime living in the Nation’s Capital and working in a variety of fields from hospital microbiologist to communication technician, Kate Parker moved to the south and began the career that has become her favorite – author. Her favorite tales are historical mysteries that would blend in with the eighteenth century streets of her new hometown. She loves to read them on long winter nights with a cup of hot tea, although the appropriate attire for the temperature is shorts and a Tee shirt. Visit Kate at www.kateparkerbooks.com