The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen: Book Review/Guest Blog/Giveaway

Dec 8, 2012 | 2012 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Terrance V. Mc Arthur

by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

Perfect for the holiday season, we have a review of Rhys Bowen’s new mystery novel 12 Clues of Christmas and a guest blog by Rhys. Also, at the end of this post you will find info on how to enter to win a copy of the book! This issue is actually packed full of giveaways for your Christmas reading and gift giving pleasure! And if you purchase these books using the links we provide, you are also helping to support KRL.

Rhys Bowen’s Constable Evans series was heartwarming and tender. Her Molly Murphy series was a wondrous exploration of the past. Bowen’s Royal Spyness series is…classy.

It’s class-conscious, at times it’s class warfare, but it always comes off with class.

The Twelve Clues of Christmas is a rollicking romp through the holidays as Lady Georgianna Rannoch (Georgie), thirty-fifth in line to the British Crown, tries to escape a dreary Scottish winter with her brother’s in-laws by working as a hostess at an estate in Devonshire…where her mother is working on a play with Noel Coward…and her ex-copper grandfather is helping out…and the passionate Darcy O’Mara is taking a break from his possibly-espionage-related activities to visit his aunt: Georgie’s employer.

Just before Georgie arrives in the picturesque village of Tiddleton-under-Lovey with Queenie (her dangerously-clumsy and calamity-causing maid), a suicide in the fruit orchard starts a train of deaths that seem to be tragic accidents…that happen one a day. If it isn’t accidental, could it be the barefoot, wild woman who lives on Lovey Tor, the village idiot, the cranky church organist, any number of village eccentrics, the convicts who escaped from a nearby prison, or one of the paying guests at the manor Christmas?

Georgie is clever (when she isn’t overlooking the obvious), brave (when she isn’t frightened of phantom movements in the mist), and determined (when she isn’t at a loss for a way out of a situation), and she’s still a virgin (although she and Darcy both seem willing to do something about that). Since the title is The Twelve Clues of Christmas, some events jump out at you, wave their metaphorical arms, and say “You get it, don’t you?” yet Georgie doesn’t figure out the thread connecting the crimes until three-quarters of the way through the book!

This is now my favorite in the series, with a focus on the class differences of Depression-era England, and some interesting twists on the way to a resolution that doesn’t bog down. At the end is a section detailing recipes, games, and traditions that could help you stage your own English Christmas.

Curl up with this book on a cold winter’s night in a comfy chair with a warm quilt, a cheery fire, and a steamy beverage. You will be happy…even if you just have the book (although it would be nice to have a cat).

Click here to purchase this book from Mysterious Galaxy & you help an indie bookstore & KRL:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He is currently writing a stage adaptation of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild for the Fresno County Public Library’s next The Big Read. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

Who Wants To Play?
by Rhys Bowen

I saw an interesting item on television this week. A teacher, as an experiment, took away all the toys in his pre-school classroom and instead brought in empty cardboard boxes of various sizes. The kids were suddenly engaged in creative play. The boxes became pirate ships, houses, racing cars and what’s more the children interacted and played together. They decorated their boxes. They were completely enthralled with what they were doing.

I’m glad to see this happening somewhere because I’m rather afraid that we are losing the ability to play. So many toys these days dictate the game for us. So many children are frozen in front of the TV, or the computer or GameBoy and are not learning to create their own universe or interact with other kids at all.

Rhys Bowen

And if they grow up not knowing how to play, there is no chance that they’ll ever play as an adult. We’ve seen the current generation, each absorbed in their own smart phone, texting while they ignore the people around them. How sad. I look back at my childhood—the complete freedom of roaming the countryside, pretending my bike was a magic steed. Of climbing trees in our orchard and building a tree house with a friend. When I was about eleven I read a comic that featured Patsy of the Circus. I rigged up my own trapeze in the orchard and became Patsy, practicing every spare moment.

Do you think this is how I became a writer—because I was able to slip with ease into imaginary worlds? Kids are now so supervised, structured and electronically overwhelmed that there is no time for daydreaming or spontaneous play. Where will the next Harry Potter come from, I wonder?

One of the things I enjoyed most about writing my new book, The Twelve Clues of Christmas, was remembering all the silly family games we played over the holiday. We’d play word games around the table when we were too full to do anything else after the meal. We’d play musical chairs and embarrassing games like pass the orange (from chin to chin), the matchbox (from nose to nose) and a complicated version of charades, complete with dressing up for every scene. And the grown-ups enjoyed it as much as the children, I suspect—roaring with laughter as someone tried to extract the orange from the many chins of a great aunt.

People would think you were crazy if you suggested playing such games with them today. I know. We used to try at parties and it was hard to get guests to participate. Beneath their dignity. Not wanting to make fools of themselves. Well, sometimes I think it’s good to let our hair down and make fools of ourselves. They say laughter is the best medicine, don’t they? So at least I can relive those long ago Christmases now by re-reading my book. Of course, in those happy holidays of my memory there weren’t any dead bodies…!

To enter to win a copy of The Twelve Clues of Christmas, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Twelve”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 15, 2012. U.S. residents only.

Rhys Bowen writes the New York Times bestselling Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mysteries. Her latest book, The Twelve Clues of Christmas, already received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal and RT Reviews. It is already nominated for best amateur sleuth by RT and has made the New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists.


  1. Can’t wait to read your new book, Rhys, and thank you for making me take a moment to look back. Did you ever make “mud pies”? One of my favorite pastimes. And we clipped playing cards to the spokes of our bikes with clothes pins (anybody remember those?) so they’d sound better. But you’ve made me think about something else. If people don’t stop and have some fun, who’s going to have the imagination to write fun mysteries in the future? Great post!

  2. Sometimes things are so obvious you miss them. Or you see them and say “that’s just preposterous, it COULDN”T be that”….and it is. But Georgie always trimumphs in the end, right?

  3. Okay, Rhys, I’m going to daydream more…starting now. Thanks for reminding us to play no matter what our age. Good advice.

  4. My thoughts exactly, Rhys. As a kid, I climbed our neighbor’s apple tree with comic book and a salt shaker. Loved those green apples! I don’t wish to go back there, but I love the memories. Today, people think they’re so important they can’t leave their cells at home or turned off while we have to overhear their conversations.

  5. Can not wait to read the book! Your blog reminded me of many afternoons spent in my back yard on my swing. I was always telling stories in my head as I did.

  6. I’m excited to read this. I love the Royal Spyness series!

  7. I love Rhys’ other series. I look forward to add this to my list. 🙂


  8. We have a winner! Thanks for entering and Happy Holidays
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher



  1. Queen of Hearts By Rhys Bowen | Kings River Life Magazine - […] The Twelve Clues of Christmas was my favorite in this series. I think I have a new favorite. […]

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