Bertie & the Crime of Passion by Peter Lovesey

Mysterious (first), 1995

As if the high-jinks of England’s current royal family aren’t enough, it now seems that Queen Victoria’s son has joined the fun — or so Lovesey would have us believe. In this third of a series, Prince Edward, or Bertie as he likes to call himself, visits Paris only to become entangled in the unraveling of a classic crime of passion. Out of friendship for a man whose daughter’s fiancé has been murdered, and also out of delightfully snobbish mistrust in the competence of the French police, he turns amateur sleuth, aided by no less a personage than Sarah Bernhardt herself. This mystery should appeal to readers who like their historical figures very broadly drawn. The plot is frothy; Lovesey takes a very simple premise and dresses it up with two famous royal characters. The Prince of Wales and the Queen of Theater provide the meat of the story by being themselves. Bertie is characterized mainly by his attention to gustatory pleasures, his flagrant anti-Gallism and his repeated, frustrated attempts to seduce Bernhardt. The only really glaring anachronisms are the character of a female medical student and the obvious lack of eyebrows raised at such an unladylike profession. The ending accelerates the book’s pace, and the denouement is a genuinely exciting surprise. And at least, unlike his indirect descendant, Bertie has the decency to maintain a sense of decorum when discussing his marriage. (Helen M Francini)

Originally published in Issue # 135 – January/February 1995

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