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10 Best Rhys Bowen Books (2024)

Best Rhys Bowen BooksA Well-Lived Life

Janet Quin-Harkin, or Rhys Bowen as her readers are familiar with, is a British novelist of mystery who has made quite a name for herself in the field. The most astonishing part about the writing career of Bowen is that she has authored more than forty books in the span of just twenty-five years. The fact that she was in her mid-fifties when she published her first book makes her situation even more amazing.

The novelist was born and raised in the United Kingdom where she also attended the University of London and graduated in 1963. Later on, she moved to the United States after marrying her American husband John Quin-Harkin. She is the mother of four children now and splits her time between living in Marin County, Arizona, and California. Talk about a well-lived life!

Woman of Many Trades

Before she picked up writing, Bowen worked as a theatre actress. She worked in the drama department of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom as well as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in, you guessed it, Australia. She also authored a book in 1981 before becoming a full-time historical fiction writer but that book was for the Sweet Dreams series launched by Bantam books.

Best Rhys Bowen Books

The Venice Sketchbook


In The Middle of War

What better book is there to start off this article than the first-place owner of the best selling Rhys Bowen books, The Venice Sketchbook? It is a piece of historical fiction with a mystery at its heart along with heavy tones of romance. If these were not enough to get you interested, it also takes place during the Second World War. As a matter of fact, it is right in the middle of it.

The story of this piece revolves around Caroline Grant and Juliet Browning. Caroline is a young woman trying to come to terms with her recent divorce and Juliet is her great-aunt who happened to be stranded in Venice, Italy when the war struck as she was taking a tour with her art students. The story starts off with Caroline receiving the last request from her great-aunt, to scatter her ashes in Venice which she so adored.

Loaded With Emotion

What I really like about this book is the magnificent descriptions of the landscape and arts of Venice. The author does very well to portray them with beauty both in the past and in our day. Other than that, the story itself is loaded with emotion and the life of Juliet is no less than inspiring. It is no surprise that this piece did so well on the seller board, it is definitely one of the best Rhys Bowen books.

The Victory Garden


Brave Hearts

The second place in our article is crowned with another one of the most popular Rhys Bowen books, The Victory Garden. It is somewhat similar to the previous piece that we have gone over as it is also a historical mystery. This time around though, the romance of the book is a little less turned on and the story takes place during the First World War instead.

We follow along with the brave-hearted, twenty-one years old Emily Bryce as she is witnessing Britain go through the Great War. She is eager to help her country and is rejoiced by the Australian pilot telling her that he believes she could help her country. They fall in love and marry shortly after. Emily begins working as a land girl in Devonshire after her husband is called back to war and there, she discovers a peculiar journal.

A Story of Hope

At heart, The Victory Garden is a story of hope. We see Emily hoping to aid her people in their war effort, we then witness her clinging to her love despite the horrible situation the World is in, and hope becomes everything for her in the later parts which I will not spoil for you now. Besides that, the scenery is beautifully-written and it just might be the best Rhys Bowen books in terms of narrative.

The Tuscan Child


Another Story From Italy

Advancing to the third piece in our article, we will be switching from the popular pieces for a change and taking a look at one of the top rated Rhys Bowen books. The Tuscan Child fashions a setting that is very similar to The Venice Sketchbook. It is yet another Second World War story taking place in Italy. It also puts romance in a very important place but this time around, the shade of love is closer to the pain of betrayal.

The story itself is another case of a young character discovering the past of one of their relatives. We escort Joanna Langley as she discovers a mysterious letter as she is arranging the funeral of her father and takes off on a journey to the past. Her father had been a part of the British air force during the Second World War and had been stranded in German-occupied territory for a long time.

Feeling The Struggle

Throughout the book, I was constantly impressed by how well I was made to feel the struggle of Joanna. Searching for the truth that could potentially turn out to be devastating is not an easy task and the author makes sure to portray that. You will be by Joanna’s side as she is struck with fear, questioning her choices, or overwhelmed. Definitely a strong contender for the best Rhys Bowen book title.

Her Royal Spyness Series


Heir to The Throne

Let’s add a little something different to our article by going over one of the best Rhys Bowen book series there are, Her Royal Spyness. It is a sixteen-book long series with an additional prelude to the titular first book which was published five years beforehand. As you can probably guess, it has major themes of espionage and as you can guess again, it involves the World Wars.

The series revolves around Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, or just… Georgie. You could be thinking that with a name like that, she just must be someone important and you would be exactly right. She is a cousin of King George V of England and the heir to the throne of Britain! The thirty-fifth heir that is, but at least she is in the line isn’t she?

Survival of The Noblest

The first few books of Her Royal Spyness in order of publications take place during the Second World War. After that, the atmosphere of the series changes from a penniless noblewoman trying to survive the war to a daring gal adventuring as she wishes and living her most exciting life. I would recommend for you to treat this series as an enjoyable, relaxing read.

In Farleigh Field


The Truths of War

Next up in our best Rhys Bowen books list, I will be quickly summarizing In Farleigh Field for you. It is another Second World War story that takes place in Britain and portrays the truths of war better than almost all of the author’s previous works. The book distinctively plays into the espionage side of the war and tells a story of betrayal and heartbreak filled with surprises and plot twists.

The story takes place in 1941, right as the pace of the war is picking up, and takes the critical Farleigh Palace into hand. The palace is used as the headquarters of the British armed forces at the time and there are multiple characters who are contributing to their country’s war efforts greatly. We learn of these characters and eventually, we watch both them and their services intertwine to make something greater.

An Above-Average Mystery

This one of the best novels by Rhys Bowen revolves around a mystery that is better than average even for the author. It is also supported perfectly with just the right amount of suspense, drama, and of course, romance. Not to mention, both the important characters that I mentioned and the side characters used in the book are very well done. This piece just might be the one deserving the best Rhys Bowen novel title.

Molly Murphy Series


Chased by Trouble

Continuing on with our Rhys Bowen books ranked list, we will go over another series by the author which is Molly Murphy. The Molly Murphy series fashions nineteen books in order and there are three other pieces meant to fill the gaps between some of the books. One of those three books is a prequel to the first book, Murphy’s Law, and was published ten years after the start of the series.

The books tell us the story of Molly Murphy, a young woman from Ireland who had to flee to the United States and completely change her identity when she committed murder in self-defense. We learn that her mother had been saying Molly would eventually get into trouble and she is proven right both with the event that led Molly to abandon Ireland and all of the misfortune she seems to attract in her new life.

Jaded and Mischievous

Molly Murphy shares a lot of similarities with the author’s later series Her Royal Spyness. However, there are some ways it discerns itself. The one I liked the most was the more jaded and mischievous tone of the writing. It adds a realness to the stories that could not be earned with a more easygoing style. This, on top of the charming character of Molly, make for one of the best series by Rhys Bowen.

Where the Sky Begins


A Fight For Courage

More than halfway through this article, I will now present you with the latest Rhys Bowen book. It is a book of struggle, taking place amidst the Second World War. We witness a woman build up her courage in the face of great horrors and afterward, we see her fighting to preserve her newfound strength against almost every part of her life going downhill.

The story kicks off in 1940, the year London was first bombed by Nazi Germany. Our narrator Josie Banks is devastated to see her city in ruins and her husband to called to service without any way for her to get in contact. She herself is injured and left unemployed by the attack as her then-boss is killed by the bombs. Then, she finds shelter in the countryside by the side of an aristocratic woman by the name of Miss Harcourt.

Perfectly Balanced

These are all that I can say to you but a lot more still remains. There is a great deal of personal betrayal, for example, that would only spoil the fun for you if I talked about it. What stands out among the things that I love about this book is the harmonical existence of both heart-warming and emotionally devastating moments. I think Rhys Bowen did very well with her new book and could only wish for more.

Above the Bay of Angels


The Royal Palace

We will now color up our article some more with another one of the best rated Rhys Bowen books which is Above the Bay of Angels. It is a massive breath of fresh air in the portfolio of the novelist since it is not about either of the world wars despite being a historical fiction piece. It still has a conflicting theme though, one that could match the wars in terms of treachery, which is the royal palace of Queen Victoria.

At the heart of the story is the young Isabella Waverly who drops that name for Helen Barton instead when a grieving woman whom she tried to comfort in the streets hands her an invitation to work at the kitchen of Buckingham Palace. She accepts the opportunity of living a better life without much thought and everything seems to work out for her. Until she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy, that is.

Picking up Slowly

Above the Bay of Angels is an easy-going, cozy book that slowly adds more suspense into the mix to create a compelling mystery that the reader is invested in. Most of the book revolves around the main character Bella; who she is, the struggles she faces in her new life, and the guilty conscience that haunts her. Then comes a great mystery and every little thing that you cared about in the book pays off.

Constable Evans Series


Always A Call For Adventure

The next Rhys Bowen books that I have in order for you in this article are the ten books that make up the novelist’s first-ever series, Constable Evans. It is a witty and charming journey through the mountains of the North Welsh that was nominated for the much acclaimed Edgar Award. The first book of the series, Evans Above, also marks the starting point of Rhys Bowen’s career as a writer.

The books collectively tell the story of constable Evan Evans who had recently moved into the small Welsh village of Llanfair. One thing to know about Llanfair is that all of its people have something going on with them and there is always a call to adventure for someone willing to look. From the lusty barmaid to the single cop serving as the village law enforcement, Evan interacts with some of the most interesting villagers.

Simple and Cheeky

Constable Evans holds some of the best novels by Rhys Bowen in its collection. They are all written with talent and precision but my favorite part about them was their simpleness compared to the other pieces in this list. The stories are cheeky in the best possible way and the small scale of the events makes it very easy for the reader to relate to and feel for the characters it presents.

What Child Is This


An Unexpected Gem

The last piece on our list of Brhys Bowen book reviews will be one that you could have very easily looked over, What Child Is This. The reason that I am saying this is that it is a short story with less than fifty pages and it is Christmas-themed. Some people might look down on holiday specials like this but I do no such thing and I would say it was worth it this time around.

This short piece tells us the stories of Jack and Maggie Harries who were left without a home after the bombing of London. On top of this, they are also still not over the loss of their child which happened during a prior Christmas. They decide to seek shelter in an abandoned-looking mansion for the night and as it turns out, the mansion will make this Christmas one to cherish.

Not as Dramatic

I would like to start off by saying that this piece is one of the best books by Rhys Bowen despite all of its disadvantages. What I really liked about it was that it concerned itself with a very short span of time and still managed to convey loads of emotion to me as a reader. I also liked how this story was not as dramatic as the author’s other works which is sometimes a little too much.

Alissa Wynn

Alissa is an avid reader, blogger, and wannabe writer. (She's a much better cook than a writer actually). Alissa is married, has one human, one feline, and two canine kids. She always looks a mess and never meets a deadline.