cover image Skeleton-In-Waiting


Peter Dickinson. Pantheon Books, $16.95 (154pp) ISBN 978-0-394-58002-9

The sequel to Dickinson's King and Joker brings readers back into the lives of his fictional but convincing British royal family during a crucial period: October 1987 through September 1988. The focus is on Princess Louise, her husband Piers Chandler and their infant son David. Subtly, the author hints at danger when the princess meets Mrs. Walsh, a woman claiming to be a Romanov who escaped during the Russian Revolution. At Walsh's apartment, Louise and baby David are trapped by kidnappers, and she comports herself admirably until rescue comes. But the mysterious Mrs. Walsh, and another Russian on the scene, are killed, leaving the princess determined to learn the secrets that died with them. Thus Louise accompanies Piers to Tashkent and finds out what Walsh had strived to conceal about her past. A superb stylist, the author evokes empathy for the ruling family, especially HRH and her commoner spouse--righteous, regal, and human as any real-life exponent of the arduous royal life. (Jan.)