When Indian Princess Alexandrina is left penniless by the sudden death of her father, the Maharaja of Brindor, Queen Victoria grants her a grace-and-favor home in Hampton Court Palace. Though rumored to be haunted, Alexandrina and her lady's maid, Pooki, have no choice but to take the Queen up on her offer.
Aside from the ghost sightings, Hampton Court doesn't seem so bad. The princess is soon befriended by three eccentric widows who invite her to a picnic with all the palace's inhabitants, for which Pooki bakes a pigeon pie. But when General-Major Bagshot dies after eating said pie, and the coroner finds traces of arsenic in his body, Pooki becomes the #1 suspect in a murder investigation.
Princess Alexandrina isn't about to let her faithful servant hang. She begins an investigation of her own, and discovers that Hampton Court isn't such a safe place to live after all.
With her trademark wit and charm, Julia Stuart introduces us to an outstanding cast of lovable oddballs, from the palace maze-keeper to the unconventional Lady Beatrice (who likes to dress up as a toucan - don't ask), as she guides us through the many delightful twists and turns in this fun and quirky murder mystery. Everyone is hiding a secret of the heart, and even Alexandrina may not realize when she's caught in a maze of love.
Published in hardcover August 2012
"Stuart combines vivid historical detail, layers of intrigue, and plenty of humor in this intelligent mystery that will appeal to Agatha Christie fans as well as those who enjoy G. M. Malliet and C. S. Challinor." - Booklist
"Fans of Stuart's novel The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise will find the same wit on display." - Publishers Weekly
"Quirky characters, a feisty protagonist, a clever mystery and the requisite historical tidbits combine for an amusing read." - Kirkus Reviews
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Rated of 5
The Pigeon Pie Mystery
What a lovely book! I enjoyed the descriptions of life in a "grace and favor" residence during the time of Queen Victoria. The characters are delightful and the mystery intriguing. The only thing I thought lacking was the "romance" of Mink, the main character. I was glad to have the map of Hampton Court when Mink and Pooki were traveling about the grounds. I laughed often at the antics of the various residents. Altogether a most satisfying read. I'm looking forward to more from this author.
Rated of 5
A very fun read
Just as she did in her previous novel, "The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise," Julia Stuart has taken a cast of interesting characters--all with intriguing secrets or stories about their pasts--and has set them into a famous British landmark, this time Hampton Court Palace. The difference here is the time, the end of the 19th century, and the murder-mystery storyline. The heroine, Alexandrina--aka Mink--follows a labyrinth of clues to clear the name of her maid, and in the process is able to win the confidence of the various inhabitants of the novel. All this is presented with the author's trademark talent for humor and description that gave me the feeling I could see just what was going on. (Make my pie chicken, though, thank you.)
Julia Stuart grew up in the West Midlands in England. She studied French and Spanish, and lived for a short period in France and Spain teaching English. After studying journalism at college, she worked on regional newspapers for six years. She then became a staff features writer for The Independent, where she worked for eight years, including a spell with The Independent on Sunday. In 2007, she relocated to Bahrain with her English husband, who is also a journalist.
She is the author of The Matchmaker of Périgord (2007). Her second novel was published in August 2010 as The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise in the USA and Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo in the UK.
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