High-placed shenanigans during World War II
Burying the Crown is the second in TP Fielden’s historical mystery series featuring Guy Harford as a courtier at Buckingham Palace, serving King George VI and the royal family during World War II. Harford, who would rather be a painter in Tangier, where he lived before the war, is an uneasy fit at the Palace – not quite polished enough, and with a bit of undeserved taint from having been the scapegoat in an earlier British debacle in Morocco.
Still, in spite of his reservations about the Palace, and the reservations of some in the Palace about him, Harford turns out to be good at his job. So good, in fact, that he’s trusted by his friend, MI6 officer Guy Hardacre, with the quite indiscreet letters that the King’s married brother, George, Duke of Kent, sent to one of his mistresses. They were found when the mistress was killed by a German bomb that hit her country home – but what about the gunshot that was heard shortly before? Was her death really a murder, and not just another tragic bombing fatality? And what in the world is Guy to do about the letters? Just to make his life more complicated, the Foreign Office wants to send Guy to Tangier to try to mend Britain’s fences with his pre-war friend, Henri, Count of Paris. And finally, while on the subject of letters, are some members of the British royal family corresponding illegally/unwisely with their royal relatives on the other side of the conflict? Fielden, who is also a royal biographer, weaves a nice mystery, mixing real life events, such as the death of the Duke of Kent in a military airplane crash, with a bit of speculation, and with the fictional activities of Hartford, Hardacre, and Rodie Carr, a burglar now co-opted to work for the crown.
As with the first book in the series, Stealing the Crown, which I read in a couple of sittings, Burying the Crown was a quick and fun read, with a few serious moments. I especially liked the Author’s Note at the end, which filled in some of the historical background, and motivated me enough to go read a bit more about the British royals during the war. My only disappointment was that I would have liked to see more of Rodie, the possibly reformed burglar, but I still hope that may come in a future book. (Fingers crossed!) Please keep in mind that I try not to give too many five-star reviews, so that my four-star rating is a true “read-this-book” recommendation. And my thanks to the publishers, Thomas & Mercer, and to NetGalley, for the advance review copy.