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The Blood Royal: A Joe Sandilands Murder Mystery [Hardcover]

Barbara Cleverly
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 13 2011 Joe Sandilands Mysteries
A story of murder, mystery and espionage (with a dash of romance) set in London in the long, hot summer of 1922, against the backdrop the Romanov murders and the disappearance of the Tsar's fortune.

A beautiful and traumatized young Russian woman turns herself in at the British consulate in Russia, begging to be sent to relatives in England and rescued from the mysterious tragedies of her past. But is she what she seems, or is she a deadly spy on a secret mission?

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Review

Praise for The Blood Royal

“For a series writer to break the bounds of chronology requires courage, and Barbara Cleverly is not afraid to take that bold step.... Cleverly's intrigues absorb the reader's mind, and her spare but elegant prose serves her well. Joe, as always, is the epitome of determination, intelligence and charm, and Lily is a character the reader will want to see again in this spellbinding series.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Cleverly underscores the idea that the actions of great nations can be substantially less noble than the nations themselves; it is a fine writer who can make her readers reflect on such concepts.... Compelling and effectively written; with each chapter, the reader is drawn further into the narrative and the darkness of the time.... Another very good read from Barbara Cleverly.”
The Strand Magazine

“A darkly glamorous thriller.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Lovers of golden age mysteries will revel in this jarring meeting of the insouciant upper crust and the roiling masses.”
Booklist

“Barbara Cleverly mysteries are addictive, and The Blood Royal is highly recommended.”Historical Novels Review

“Cleverly's skill with narration is matched with her ability to convey both her characters' social class and emotional drama in her dialogue…. I was so impressed with Cleverly's writing and her ability to draw you into her story that I immediately read her first of the series, the award-winning THE LAST KASHMIRI ROSE, written in 2001. But if you are unfamiliar with this series, there would seem to be no harm in starting with this one, as it seems to be signalling a new direction and certainly offers much to enjoy.”
—ReviewingTheEvidence.com

Praise for Barbara Cleverly

"Despite her mastery at vivid scene-setting, Cleverly never loses sight of the historical puzzle that is central to her story. Simply put, it's a stunner."
New York Times

"Spectacular and dashing. Spellbinding."
—New York Times Book Review

"Excellent.... Golden age fans who appreciate deceptive storytelling enhanced by the kind of in-depth characterization lacking in Agatha Christie will be more than satisfied."
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"This series and its hero age well: the perspicacious Sandilands exhibits an arresting combination of Mary Russell's discernment and Chief Inspector Wexford's tenacious certainty."
Booklist Starred Review

"Cleverly's crisp prose and solid cast of supporting characters ... make the book a delight to read."
Denver Post

"Stylish and intricate.... Cleverly has perfect pitch for period and place, whether her hero is unearthing evil in India, England or France."
Richmond Times-Dispatch

"A great blood and guts blockbuster."
Guardian

"Atmospheric ... intricately plotted."
Kirkus Reviews 

About the Author

Barbara Cleverly was born in the north of England and is a graduate of Durham University. A former teacher, she has spent her working life in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk; she now lives in Cambridge. She has one son and five step-children. She is the author of seven books in the Joe Sandilands series, including The Last Kashmiri Rose, Folly du Jour and Strange Images of Death. Her Joe Sandilands series, set against the background of the Indian Empire, was inspired by the contents of a battered old tin trunk that she found in her attic.

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By L. J. Roberts TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
First Sentence: 'Are you sure this is the place, cabby?'

It's 1922 and Commander Joe Sandilands, back from his tour in India, is now head of the CID and the Special Irish Branch of the Metropolitan Police. Tsar Nicholas, cousin to King George, and his family have been murdered in Russia and the Irish threat is ever present. With the murder of Lord Dedham by a pair of Irish gunman with the assistance of an escaped third gunman, and suspicions of a Russian spy out to kill the Royal Family, Joe commanders the assistance of Lily Wentworth, a young Constable he saved from being knifed in the posterior while arresting a child predator.

For those who have been following this series and reading the books as they are released, Ms. Cleverly has jumped us back in time from Joe's last adventure, set in 1926, to this one. For those for whom this is their introduction to Joe, fear not as it reads very well as a standalone and provides sufficient character definition so as not to feel lost.

The biggest difference is that whereas the previous books focused on Joe alone, this is a collaborative, and professional, effort between Joe and Lily. One of the most significant things about Lily, is seeing how the role of women in England had changed during this time. There actually was the first female CID officer, Lilian Wyles, appointed in 1922/23. That blending of historical facts, and many characters, within a fictional story is only one of the things Ms. Cleverly does extremely well.

Another of Ms. Cleverly's strengths is her voice. She conveys emotion very effectively. Both the dialogue and her narrative convey the social class and role of the character involved.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly different Oct. 1 2011
By Reckless reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Blood Royal" was quite unlike any of the previous Cleverly books I have read (all of the Joe Sandilands and all Letitia Talbot mysteries). It's hard to believe it was written by the same author. Joe Sandilands in this book is a patronizing twit, instead of the sympathetic, well-spoken but not overbearing former war hero of the earlier books. I had been looking forward to this novel but I found it a big disappointment. My advice is to forget this one and read any of the previous Joe Sandilands mysteries instead. They are all superior to this one.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the others Oct. 9 2011
By plum9195 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Was so excited to get this book, had been waiting for it to come out for months. How disappointing. Could have had some very interesting characters, but failed to develop them. I never felt like a cared what happened to any of them. Bring the old Joe Sandilands back.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ms. Cleverly's strengths are definitely here, but there are more weaknesses than usual. Nov. 4 2011
By L. J. Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First Sentence: "Are you sure this is the place, cabby?"

It's 1922 and Commander Joe Sandilands, back from his tour in India, is now head of the CID and the Special Irish Branch of the Metropolitan Police. Tsar Nicholas, cousin to King George, and his family have been murdered in Russia and the Irish threat is ever present. With the murder of Lord Dedham by a pair of Irish gunman with the assistance of an escaped third gunman, and suspicions of a Russian spy out to kill the Royal Family, Joe commanders the assistance of Lily Wentworth, a young Constable he saved from being knifed in the posterior while arresting a child predator.

For those who have been following this series and reading the books as they are released, Ms. Cleverly has jumped us back in time from Joe's last adventure, set in 1926, to this one. For those for whom this is their introduction to Joe, fear not as it reads very well as a standalone and provides sufficient character definition so as not to feel lost.

The biggest difference is that whereas the previous books focused on Joe alone, this is a collaborative, and professional, effort between Joe and Lily. One of the most significant things about Lily, is seeing how the role of women in England had changed during this time. There actually was the first female CID officer, Lilian Wyles, appointed in 1922/23. That blending of historical facts, and many characters, within a fictional story is only one of the things Ms. Cleverly does extremely well.

Another of Ms. Cleverly's strengths is her voice. She conveys emotion very effectively. Both the dialogue and her narrative convey the social class and role of the character involved. There are flashes of humor, such as an observation natural for someone at Joe's age of 29, and a cleaver way in which we are informed of Lily's appearance and capability through "hearing" Joe's side of a telephone conversation. She creates a strong sense of time and place through the use of period euphemisms..."Phyl...the Slip-Up? How's he doing?" (an illegitimate child) and ..."He's not planning to twang your elastic" (get in your panties), but also illustrating the social structure and manners of the time. There is even an excellent argument on loyalty to England and the purpose of the monarchy and a painfully realistic view about war..."The men of Europe were straining for a war. When the will to war is there, one bullet from a madman's gun outweighs years of diplomacy." and that the actions of great nations can be substantially less noble than the nations themselves. It is the hallmark of a fine writer when they make you stop and think.

However, the dark is well offset with the light. Although listed as "A Joe Sandilands Murder Mystery," the stage is shared by, and sometimes dominated by, Lily. It is refreshing to have a male and female character in strong roles without their being a romantic relationship. Each character definitely holds their own although there are several scenes between them which seem rather unrealistic, but rather how one would like such relationships to be.

They story is very effectively written; you are drawn in further into the story and the darkness of the time with each chapter. There are well executed changes of direction that take you, with some good suspense, down unexpected roads. Unfortunately, there is one major convenience that makes things a bit too pat, but it is of little consequence to the overall and the ending is a bit abrupt.

"THE BLOOD ROYAL" is, in all, another very good read from Ms. Cleverly.

THE BLOOD ROYAL (Hist Mys/Pol Proc-Joe Sandilands/Lily Wendworth-England-1922/Golden Age) - Good
Cleverly, Barbara - 9th published in series; 5th chronologically in series
New York; Soho Constable, ©2011
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book doesn't fit in with series Oct. 30 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I, like other reviewers, had been eagerly awaiting this book. And I enjoyed it--just not as another Sandilands book. This character is not consistent with the other Joe Sandilands appearances in Cleverly's other books. If this hero had another name this would be a good start to a new series with he and Wentworth cruising through the criminal and political world of post WW I England.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gilded Lily Sept. 27 2011
By Blue in Washington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"The Blood Royal" has the bones of an interesting plot -- in 1922 London, a terrorist ring (maybe Russian?) is targeting highly placed government officials and members of the royal family. Early on in the laying out of the storyline however, the tale seems to turn into a version of "Pygmalion"/ "My Fair Lady", with novel protagonist, Police Commissioner Joe Sandilands as Henry Higgins and Deputy Constable Lily Wentworth as his Liza Doolittle. This is a conceit that never gets off the ground. Next there is a very confusing Chinese fire drill kind of action that is rendered all but unintelligible by writing and language as royal purple and convoluted as anything written in the late 19th Century. The narrative and dialogues are total action killers.

Equally regrettable are the characters who could have been interesting, but who are so dressed up (literally, at times) with super human qualities and sent through such outlandish action hoops, that they just fail to establish any credibility. The final straw for me was the book's closing message (repeated twice over in the novel) that no crime committed by a member of the upper classes may be punished if it any way could cause embarrassment to the nation's powers that be.

I love this kind of period mystery and there are some really good ones out there. And this could have been a pretty good book with some fierce discipline by a good editor. Apparently, that kind of assistance was not available to the publisher.
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