SKELETON-IN-WAITING by Peter Dickinson


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A welcome sequel to King and Joker (1976) that brings Dickinson's fictional family of British royal zanies into the Eighties--amid the usual terrorist threats, nervous breakdowns, endless negotiations with protocol chiefs, and mysteries solved by grown-up Princess Louise. Here, Louise, married to commoner Piers Chandler and mother of infant son Davy, emerges even more decisively as the real head of the family led by her father, King Victor II, when the death of her octogenarian grandmother, ""Grand Duchess"" Marie Romanov (""she fell off one of the pianos trying to catch that parrot of hers""), threatens to create a scandal through the publication of her papers, now in the bands of Lady Surbiton, Louise's Aunt Bea. The tug-of-war between the royal family, who want control over anything that's printed, and the popular press, avid as ever for a juicy story (while marking time, they regale their readers with the news that Louise's sister-in-law Princess Sophia--""Soppy""--has been spotted on vacation in Argentina ""among the people who killed your friends"") is complicated by the entrance of Count Alex Romanov, the Duchess' literary executor, and forbidding Mrs. Walsh, of dubiously Romanov connections, who swiftly gets Aunt Bea under her thumb. Despite hints early on of a terrorist plot, most of the arch maneuvering is political, with murder and mystery tossed into the brew almost as an afterthought. A disappointment to mystery fans, perhaps, but a fine comic fantasy of royal shenanigans in Dickinson's best Michael Innes manner.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1989
Publisher: Pantheon