Tuesday, August 4, 2015


RHYS: Today I’m celebrating the publication of my ninth
Royal Spyness mystery called MALICE AT THE PALACE.  It seems almost no time at all since I wrote that first book, HER ROYAL SPYNESS and we first met the penniless and slightly clueless Lady Georgie, thirty-fifth in line to the throne, and the dashing but dangerous Darcy O’Mara. Their relationship has had its ups and downs since then. Georgie has solved a few mysteries. But this one was particularly fun to write because it featured a real royal wedding, and a real royal scandal.

            Georgie is asked to move into Kensington Palace where Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark is being housed before her wedding to Prince George, the Duke of Kent, youngest son of King George and Queen Mary. Georgie is supposed to show Marina the ropes of life in England.
But of course Georgie knows very few ropes herself, having lived most of her life in a Scottish castle and not having the money to mingle with the beautiful people. All is going smoothly until a body turns up under the haunted clock-tower at Kensington Palace. And it’s the body of a young woman who was a former mistress of the groom. It’s up to Georgie to avert a royal scandal that might stop the wedding!

            How dare I write this, you may ask? I do dare because so much of it is based on well documented fact. King George’s youngest son led a very wild life.  In fact his behavior was so scandalous that his papers were sealed after his death. What we do know is that his lovers were reputed to include many celebrities: Noel Coward and Barbara Cartland among others.  Party girl Kiki Preston was one of his mistresses. She was known as ‘the girl with the silver syringe’ because of her cocaine habit. She eventually committed suicide. The prince and Princess Marina seemed genuinely fond of each other and he might have mended his ways and settled down but he died in a plane crash in WWII.

            So you can imagine I had fun doing my research in Kensington Palace. I had the bones of my story in place but what I had not counted on was the number of ghosts that haunt the palace. The young woman in white who is supposed to be Princess Sophia, daughter of George the first. Kept shut away in a palace she fell in love with an equerry and produced a child. The child was taken from her and her ghost walks the halls looking for it or her lover.  Then there is the wild boy Peter, found in a forest in Germany and brought over for the king’s amusement. He appears from time to time, leaping out and laughing maniacally.

            You can certainly feel the coldness in some rooms and find yourself glancing over your shoulder on some staircases. I didn’t see a ghost personally, but I asked one of the guards if he’d ever seen one.  “Not here,” he said, “although I know those who have. But the house where I was living I went downstairs to turn off the TV, turned around, and there was a woman in black standing behind me. She said “once I was blind. Now I can see.”  I can’t tell you how fast I sprinted back up those stairs.”

            Do you believe in ghosts? I have to because I grew up in a haunted house. My brother and I slept alone on the top floor. I used to see a procession of hooded figures coming up the stairs.  Windows would blow open, letting in a howling gale. Mats would flap on the floors. I wondered if it was all my imagination and asked my brother, who was eight when we left that house, if he thought it was haunted.  “Of course it was,” he said easily.

So who needs to make things up when there are so many good stories in England, just waiting to be told.  Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you believe in them?  I will give away a signed copy of MALICE AT THE PALACE to my favorite comment of the day.

And all this week I’ll be on tour. Scottsdale, Houston, Naperville IN, Dayton OH, Petaluma CA, Corte Madera CA.  If you’d like details check the appearances page of my website www.rhysbowen.com. I hope to see some of you along the way. And do come up and tell me you read Jungle Red Writers!


Kathy Reel said...

Kathy here at 3:24 a.m., having just put down Peter May's Entry Island for the night, morning. Aside from the fact that May's book is a great read, I'm trying to finish it (200 out of 500 pages to go) so that I can dive into Malice right away. Your teasers on FB have me fired up and ready to go. And then you start talking about ghosts here, and I am even more excited. Your experiences with ghosts are so intriguing and are sure to make any sightings in Malice more authentic.

Now, I have to get to bed. When my contractor calls and wakes me up later, I'm going mumble that I can't schedule anything too early because Rhys Bowen made me stay late up reading.

Joan Emerson said...

Happy Book Birthday

I cannot say I remember ever seeing a ghost, but my mom said my sister and I used to play with a ghost when we were babies.
I am so looking forward to reading “Malice at the Palace.”

Marianne in Maine said...

Happy Book Birthday, Rhys!

MALICE audiobook has been downloaded and I'm ready to dive into it. Gladly!

I can't say I've ever seen a ghost. Sure like reading about them though.

Margaret Turkevich said...

Years ago, I had a ghostly encounter at the Myrtles Plantation in St Francisville, Louisiana. When I returned last year, the upstairs floors were being refinished and there was not a ghost to be seen.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Happy book birthday, Rhys!

Once when I hd a big decision to make about the kiddo, I felt the distinct warm and lovely presence of Miss Edna, who told me I was doing the right thing. I think of that often, because I have no rational explanation for what happened.

FChurch said...

Years ago, when the boys were very small, I was at work, training someone near the end of the day. There was a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye--and a voice said, urgently: "Girl!" Then again, "Girl!" I looked, but no one was there. Again, the flicker of movement, the voice sounding, I realized, in my head. Urgently, "Girl!" The sense of urgency infected me as I drove home shortly after, but I reassured myself that the boys were fine at the sitter's. When I turned my key and opened the door, I was met by a strong odor of gas. The house was filled with fumes. I left the door wide opened, opened the garage door, and let the fumes dissipate. Someone had knocked over a can of gas in the garage and the fumes had filled the house. If not for that voice, my sister, who smokes, might have lit up a cigarette and walked into that fume-filled house seconds after I got there. My dad had passed away just a few months' earlier. I am convinced the voice was his. Thanks, Dad! Still looking after his girls!

And now, a new Rhys book to save me again--this time from tedium (otherwise known as housework).

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

I do, indeed. Have I seen them? Not exactly. But they leave pennies for me to let me know I'm on the right track.

Susan, yup, yes indeed. And Kathy Reel, your contractor will understand!

And--if you want ANOTHER chance to with MALICE, come to Femmes Fatales today--where Rhys is telling a lot of secrets!


Mary Sutton said...

Happy book birthday! What a research trip. =)

I'm not sure whether I believe in ghosts. The dorm room I lived in my sophomore year in college allegedly belonged to a friar who committed suicide. There was a cold spot over the closet - we couldn't get anything to stick to it, no matter what we used. Eventually, a poster literally flew across the room after being put in that spot (I was sitting at my desk, it did look like it was thrown) and we stopped trying. The phone used to ring at odd hours and no one would be on the other end.

But I never felt anything, never felt threatened. He just didn't want us to put a poster there; maybe he didn't like our taste in posters.

kate said...

I do believe in ghosts. I grew up in the theatre a notoriously haunted locale.

I seem to attack ghosts too. My sorority house in college was haunted. Apparently CED (the ghost) had been quite the terror before the girls moved in, but he liked us. I would love to use him in a story one day. Once I asked a ghost to leave my friend alone because the ghost kept walking outside her second story window and freaking her out. He switched to thumping down the hall, noisier but less creeping than a young man passing outside a second story window.

Karen in Ohio said...

Can't wait to read Malice in the Palace! Georgie's adventures are always such fun, and I love how well-researched your books are, Rhys.

Luckily, I have always had an open mind about the afterlife, because when I finally had an encounter with it the circumstances did not freak me out nearly as much as they could have.

I'd been traveling a long way, with the goal of arriving at my friends' ranch in Wyoming by dinnertime. There was lots of roadwork, though, and apparently a very bad accident that closed several miles of interstate, enough that traffic had to be diverted into no man's land. I could see that I wasn't going to make it before nightfall, and decided I'd best get motel arrangements made, since there was only one tiny town in between where I was and where I needed to go.

There were no rooms, though. A big town-wide reunion was going on and all the rooms were booked. Except one, a room that magically appeared when I told the clerk how desperate I was. Excellent.

So I got to the motel, was given the key, and after a hasty, very late dinner, I crawled into bed for a much-needed rest. The room was at the end of a hallway, off to itself, on the top floor, and in the corner of the building.

I'd no sooner closed my eyes than I started hearing footsteps in the room. IN the room. I sat up, bolt upright, and snapped on the light. Nothing there. Turned off the light. Heard it again. Nothing there again. Tried to sleep.

Next, I began smelling a very strong odor of unwashed, alcohol-soaked male. Again, nothing there, turned off the light and tried to sleep.

A few moments later I felt someone tap me firmly on the shoulder. That got my attention! No one was there again, and by this time I was exhausted. I said to whatever it was, "I'm SO tired, will you please let me sleep?" And that was the end of it.

Later on, someone said that an old man, a Native American, had been murdered in that town, possibly in the motel. I have a strong suspicion he was my visitor.

Pat D said...

Oh, those are great tales. I believe in ghosts but they evidently don't believe in me. They absolutely refuse to appear if I'm around. We were checking for them at the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood last year. At the Galvez in Galveston. Anywhere reputed to have a ghost. No luck. Hearing about the Myrtles reminds me of a family trip back in the sixties. Mom, Dad, and us kids were cruising around St Francisville and we wanted to see the haunted house. We pulled into the Myrtles' drive just as a woman came out the front door. She was wearing a housecoat, her hair was a mess, and I hope she wasn't expecting company. Anyway, Dad said "there's the ghost" and kept on going.

Mark Baker said...

I'm about half way through the book and loving it. Can't wait to see how this all plays out.

Mark Baker said...

Oh, and I realized this was book 9 when I started it myself, and I had to count again. I couldn't believe I've been reading about Georgie that long.

Deborah Crombie said...

Wow! What great stories, especially FChurch and Karen! I don't have anything quite that dramatic to report, but I've always sworn that my grandmother visited me the morning of her funeral. (We were very, very close. She lived with my family from the time I was born and was my primary caretaker, and then, when I was older, my best friend.) So that spring morning I woke at daybreak and she was there. The feeling of her presence was so strong, she might have been sitting next to me. She told me that she was all right and not to be sad. And then she was gone.

Rhys, Happy Book Birthday! I loved Malice in the Palace. Georgie was such fun, as always, but there was an added layer to this book with knowing that Prince George and Princess Marina were real people, and knowing what befell them. I loved Kensington Palace setting, and loved your pictures in this morning's post.

Have a great tour!!

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid we used to go to a girl scout camp in a former TB sanitorium. We girls didn't know that's formerly what it was when we were there; I only read about it years later. (http://www.hauntedplaces.org/item/bothin-youth-center) Of course, we had active imaginations and used to tell ghost stories at night to scare each other. The place always had a feeling of sadness and mystery, like there were unresolved spirits wandering the halls and sleeping on the old metal twin beds. Who knows what lurked then or now?! ;-)

Looking forward to the book, Rhys. I have loved all the others in this fun series. Cheers!

Julia said...

Happy Book Birthday, Rhys!

I think we're ALL excited about reading a new Lady Georgie book!

Kathy Reel said...

My contractor did indeed wake me up after about four and a half hours sleep, but coffee is helping me to navigate the morning. I love hearing all the ghost stories. FChurch and Karen, your stories were particularly chilling. And, Susan and Debs, I've had that presence feel, too. My mother loved Christmas, and after she died, I had used one of the ancient whirligig ornaments she had always used. I went into the living room where the Christmas tree was, and the ornament was twirling without a breath of air from anywhere, and I felt my mother there very strongly. One of the best bonding moments my father and I ever had was when he told me shortly after my mother's death that she had appeared to him at the end of his bed. This occurrence was not an easy one for him to admit, and that he chose me to share it with meant a lot to me. I reassured him about it, as it shook him up quite a bit.

And, Rhys, I did meant to say Happy Book Birthday!

Jim Collins said...

Another series I haven't kept up with (up with which I have not kept?). I really enjoyed the first couple of these, thanks to your generous quiz-show gift, and need to get back to reading them! As for ghosts, I don't have any good stories, but that in itself is IMNAAHO absolutely no reason to doubt their existence.

Sorry your tour isn't coming this way, but hope to see you at B'con!

Jim in Durham

Lisa Alber said...

Happy publication day, Rhys! I love historicals that have a premise based in reality.

I do believe in something in the realm of "other." The closest I've come to experiencing a ghost was after my previous cat died. I'd wake up to the sound of meowing--like he was outside and wanted to come inside. It was uncanny because I've had dreams with meowing cats in them--dreams have their own way of sounding. This sounded different, like reality.

And, actually, now that I think about it, I've randomly heard a voice saying "Lisa" out of nowhere. The voice is always behind my right shoulder. That trips me out big time because it's right there, close, inside my head, but not. And it's distinct too. It's not like I'm mistaking a sound out of background white noise for the sound of my name. I've been waiting for years to hear what the voice wants to tell me.

I love this stuff!

TFJ said...

By ghost experience is by way of my niece (ghost by association?): She had moved into a 1920s house subdivided into apartments. Drawers in the kitchen would open and close; lights flicker off and on. She never saw anyone, but had a sense the ghost was male and so then made a habit of acknowledging "Fred" each time he made himself known. Got to the point she'd say hello and goodbye when entering and exiting the house. All very friendly!

Rhys' ghosts sound a bit more sinister . . . can't wait to read Malice. Love the combination of history and fiction.


FChurch said...

Kathy Reel, the gas fumes were chilling, but not the sense of my dad watching out for us. Love never dies, I think. When the boys were very young (again)--3-4?--we were caught in a storm that had blown up quickly--high-shear winds downing telephone poles--police directing traffic onto back roads, dark, raining--and the boys strapped into the back of the car with me trying to stay calm and keep them from being frightened. All of a sudden, the older one piped up curiously: "Can Granny see in the dark?" My mom passed away when he was 4 months old--so neither he nor his younger brother knew her--but I feel strongly that my mom was with us that night.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Congratulations on another book birthday Rhys--and you never look a day older! I am in the middle of this book and so enjoying it. And I love all the ghost stories too!

Rhys said...

Thank you all for the warm wishes. I'm feeling a glow right now but that's partly because I'm in Scottsdale and it's due yo get to 111 today. And I'll be posting on my Facebook page about my adventures. Had one already!

Reine said...

Rhys this book sounds like it will be my favorite Georgie.

Yes, I do believe in ghosts. I was born in Salem, Massachusetts. You can't miss them. I once saw the ghost of my great-grandfather standing in the empty lot where his house had been near the House of Seven Gables. My mother said he held me in his arms just before he died. I later learned, long after my mother died, that he died before I was born. I reasoned that she must have meant another of my great-grandfathers. I did some research and learned that all had died before I was born.

Reine said...

It's a family mystery I don't think will be solved. I can no longer ask her, but now I think, or wonder rather, if the great-grandfather she saw holding me was himself a ghost?

Deborah Crombie said...

Great story, Reine!!

Pat D said...

I had totally forgotten about this. Dad died in November. A couple of months later Mom said she'd seen him, plain as day, gesturing from the doorway, telling her it was time to get up. He was always an early bird.

Libby Dodd said...

The rational part of our brain says ghosts cannot be real. But then we or someone else credible has an experience that leaves us wondering

Unknown said...

Just finished reading Malice at the Palace. Wonderful book! You handled a difficult subject with great deference & compassion. The cliffhanger is terrific. But it will be torture waiting another year to discover what happens. Thank you, Rhys. Have a great book tour!