Thursday, July 13, 2017

Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Caught between my high birth and empty purse, I am relieved to receive a new assignment from the queen. The king's youngest son, George, is to wed Princess Marina of Greece, and I shall be her companion, showing her the best of London - and dispelling any rumors about George's libertine history.

George is known for his many affairs with women as well as men - including the great songwriter Noel Coward. But things truly get complicated when one of his supposed mistresses is murdered.

The queen wants the whole murder hushed. But as the case unfolds - and my beau, Darcy, turns up in the most unlikely of places, as always- our investigation brings us precariously  close to the Prince himself.

It's with a heavy heart that I'm writing this review. I love Lady Georgiana. I've highlighted her in a Favorite Fictional Character post, and I truly want her to be happy with Darcy, but as of tonight, I'm doomed to never find out if that wish comes true. Malice at the Palace may be the ninth book in an ongoing series, but it's my last.

The one note side characters that have been annoying me for a while, actually improved in this book, but not by much. Queenie still needs to disappear for good, but Belinda won back some of my sympathy. Georgie's common grandfather, and her aristocratic brother and sister-in-law all made reappearances, and I was happy to see them.  They haven't been around much, so they hadn't been getting on my nerves. Darcy is still as dashing and charming as ever, and everytime he's on the scene, I grow just a tad bit jealous of Georgie for hooking him. Sadly, this isn't enough for me to continue with the series. Overall, her charcters are one note caricatures, and no improvement in this area is enough to make up for my real issue with this series.

I am absolutely done with the author's homophobic attitude. She treats gay and bisexual men as jokes. For nine frickin books I've been patiently dealing with it for Georgie's sake. I prayed that her treatment of them would improve, but it's only gotten worse. Every single gay or bisexual man is portrayed as either someone to pity, someone to scorn, the butt of a joke, a manipulator looking for a wife to hide his gayness behind, a money hungry twink, and now a full fledged murderer.  The poor guy is being blackmailed, so he decides to kill his oppressor, not that I blame him, but come on already. Naturally when Georgie stumbles upon the solution, he tries to take her out, but is summarily pushed down the stairs to his death, by ghosts of all things. I liked the guy, he was an interesting character, and we knew nothing about his sexuality until the end.  He didn't deserve the treatment he got.

The authors attitude almost seems pathological and deliberate in nature. Over the course of nine books, there is not a single gay or bisexual male character that breaks the mold I mentioned before. The author seems obsessed with gay and bisexual men, as they appear in every one of the nine books. But why are none of them not somehow portrayed in the manner I listed earlier. Of course I could be over thinking this. Maybe it's simply that she can't write characters, outside of Georgie and Darcy, that are more complicated than a paperdoll. Her other side characters are one dimensional stereotypes, so why should gay and bisexual men be any different.

Either way, I'm over it. I'm going to miss Georgie and Darcy, and I'm sad I'll never see them married.


bermudaonion said...

I don't blame you for giving up on the series.

Susan said...

Bye Bye Rhy...As a writer she should be sensitive to This Important Subject

Katherine P said...

That is too bad that a series you loved took such a dive. I don't feel quite as bad now for being so behind in this series! I can see the excuse of the time period for not having the most sympathetic treatment of gay and bisexual characters but on the other hand Agatha Christie had characters who were clearly gay who she treated as actual regular people in her books and she was actually writing in the 20s through 70s. From my understanding London high society was pretty accepting as long as you were discreet and entertaining. Pretty disappointing all around from Rhys Bowen.

Harry said...

Thank you so much for pointing out Bowen's homophobia. The recorded versions are stupendous with Katherine Kellgren acing every single character, but the consistent maltreatment of lgbt characters is depressing and disappointing. How does an editor let it stand so consistently?