By Gale Albright
I will say unreservedly that Rhys Bowen is a brick and an old bean.
I believe these were compliments among the aristocracy in old time England. Bowen married into an upper-crust British family and became familiar with their Downton Abbey-esque manner of speech that flourished in the early part of the twentieth century. Her Royal Spyness series is set during the Great Depression on the UK side of the Atlantic. Her protagonist, Lady Georgie, is a royal who is far removed from the throne. She’s just royal enough that she can’t work because “the queen wouldn’t like it.” Lady Georgie must find ways to earn money and solve murders that crop up. She has a deplorable sister in law called “Fig.” Enough said.
Bowen’s Molly Murphy series is about an Irish lass on the run from a date with the hangman’s noose in Ireland around the turn of the century. The series takes Molly through Ellis Island, into New York City, marriage to a policeman, and the occasional murder.
Bowen’s talk at the Sisters in Crime: Heart of Texas meeting on Sunday, March 13 at the Yarborough Public Library, was about “getting it right.” Since the stories about Lady Georgie and Molly are historical mysteries, Bowen is meticulous about doing her research. She feels that there’s nothing worse for a writer than to make a mistake about a historical detail. “I won’t blurb a book that has an historical error,” she said. Readers won’t tend to trust a writer if they run across mistakes in her novels. She talked to us at length about the importance of research and creating the correct time and feel for place in a novel.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Sisters in Crime national organization, Bowen was our guest for the weekend of March 12 – 13. She appeared at a book signing on Saturday, March 12, at BookPeople for her new Molly Murphy book, Time of Fog and Fire at 3 p.m. Afterward, some of us went to dinner with her and had a royal good time.
On Sunday, March 13, our vice president, George Wier, and I had brunch with Bowen at Fonda San Miguel, drove around to look at bluebonnets and rolling hills, and came back to a packed house at the Yarborough Library. Afterwards, we repaired to La Mancha for libations and more food.
I hope she enjoyed it. We certainly enjoyed her. She is a most elegant– yet down to earth–lady with considerable wit, charm, and professionalism. We thought she was swell.
Bowen has won many writing awards, including the Macavity Award for Oh Danny Boy and Agatha Award for Murphy’s Law. Last year’s book, Malice at the Palace, won the Lefty Award for the best historical novel at the Left Coast Crime convention.
To find out more about Rhys Bowen, New York Times best-selling author of the Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy mystery series, go to http://rhysbowen.com