Julia Stuart returns in her follow-up to the bestselling The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise with this clever murder mystery set in Victorian England, brimming with her signature charm and fabulous characters.
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.
About Julia Stuart
JULIA STUART is an award-winning journalist and the author of two previous novels, The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise and The Matchmaker of Perigord. She lives in London.
His kingdom stolen by the British, the Maharaja is taken to England where, as a favorite of Queen Victoria, he marries an Englishwoman and spends his life brooding on the loss of the family jewels. His scandalous death in the arms of another young woman makes life difficult for his daughter Alexandrina, known as Mink, who is lucky to be awarded a grace-and-favor apartment at Hampton Court Palace, which is reputed to be haunted by ghosts. Once Mink and her Indian servant Pooki move into the moldering apartment, they meet a diverse and zany group: the obnoxious Maj. Gen. Bagshot and his wife, several military relics, the Keeper of the Maze, the Keeper of the Great Vine and Dr. Henderson, who falls for Mink. When a picnic is proposed, Pooki is asked to make a pigeon pie, a favorite of Bagshot’s. Soon after enjoying the treat, Bagshot dies—apparently from cholera, until an anonymous letter suggesting otherwise provokes a postmortem that turns up arsenic. Mink must unmask the real killer if she is to clear Pooki. As she questions her new acquaintances, Mink discovers many secrets. But are any of them a motive for murder? – Kirkus Reviews
Exclusive First Read: ‘The Pigeon Pie Mystery’
NPR Book Review – July 25, 2012 (Excerpt)
The year is 1898. Our heroine, Princess Alexandrina, better known as Mink, is the suddenly penniless daughter of the late, disgraced Maharajah of Prindur, and the best female marksman in England. Queen Victoria has offered Mink a grace-and-favor house (rent-free lodging granted by a monarch) at Hampton Court Palace, where the dispossessed princess and her large-footed serving maid, Pooki, fall in with a cast of classic English eccentrics, a wandering American, and a beetle-eating hedgehog named Victoria. We join the story as the palace residents are preparing for the fateful picnic that will set the events of this charming mystery in motion. The Pigeon Pie Mystery will be published Aug. 7. [Read the full article...]
Book World: Julia Stuart’s ‘The Pigeon Pie Mystery’ serves delicious slices of Victorian England
The Washington Post Book Review – September 6, 2012 (Excerpt)
Cracking a Julia Stuart novel is like opening the door of an old-fashioned English tearoom. A bell tinkles merrily, and you enter a cozy world all the more inviting for being slightly claustrophobic. The atmosphere is warm and soporific, the clientele is familiar and the treats are reassuringly predictable. There are no nasty jolts, not even when murder is committed.
Following the success of her previous novel, “The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise,” which was set in the Tower of London, Stuart places “The Pigeon Pie Mystery” at Hampton Court Palace. The year is 1897, and the place has long been a tourist attraction. The only occupants are the palace staff and a handful of decayed aristocrats known as “grace-and-favour” residents who have been granted apartments by royal decree. (Stuart, as always, has done her homework, informing us that the last such warrants were granted in the 1980s and that “two grace-and-favour-residents still live there.”) [Read the full article...]
DOODLEBUGS & SPITFIRES
Memories and Short Stories by Peter Carroll
“Doodlebugs & Spitfires” is a delightful collection of memories and short stories written by Peter Carroll, the author of “Queen of Misfortune,” in his trademark poetic and profoundly thoughtful style.
Most of his stories, previously published in limited form in local English newspapers and magazines, like “Brave New World”, “The Forties Street Tradesmen”, “Doodlebugs”, or “The Christmas of 43” evolve around his childhood in the Northern part of London during and after World War II. He describes the horrors that came with the V1 flying bombs, nicknamed the “Doodlebugs.” Heroic British pilots in their “Spitfire” airplanes would attempt to divert the flying bombs from the populated areas, sometimes successful, and sometimes not.
Doodlebugs & Spitfires is available at Amazon.Com and its Kindle store, Amazon.co.uk and its Kindle store, Barnes & Noble, and any other good bookstore.