Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart

Quirky, idiosyncratic, individual, peculiar, unusual, odd, strange, eccentric, unpredictable, distinctive, unconventional, weird, comical, bizarre, outlandish, wacky.  And that only describes the cast of characters.  Julia Stuart is a comic genius.  She gives us a list of characters so radically different and strange, and bizarre, and etc., etc., etc., that you have to plan an extra half hour just to get control of the tears of laughter rolling down your cheeks.

But intertwined with the personalities, Stuart gives us a pleasant, cozy, but well-crafted mystery.  It can't actually be described as a murder mystery, because the question is actually whether or not the deceased was murdered.  Once that part is decided, the search must shift to who-dunnit?  Did the Doctor who signed the death certificate make a mistake?  Is the homeopath (whom many regard as a quack) able to shed any light on the subject?  Did the good General (IS he a "good" General?) really die from ingesting a Pigeon Pie? 

The setting - Hampton Court Palace in London, where this looney tune roster of "Grace and Favor" residents enjoy rent free living courtesty of Her Majesty the Queen (in this case and setting, the ruler is Victoria)--is especially interesting in view of the current Olympic games being played there, with the palace serving as the staging area for the final journey of the Torch last week.  The sub-plot revolving around the authenticity and existence of ghosts in the residences, adds even more to the fun.

Not only do we get a good dose of wonderful characters, and a mind tickling mystery, we get some history, some culture, and a wonderful view of the vast British empire, it's class structure, and its polyglot population.  A thoroughly enjoyable read.

The ending is especially delightful as Stuart seems to be leaving an opening for a series.  Princess Alexandrina as a private detective?  I'd love to see that happen.  There is certainly enough here in setting, characters and opportunities for nefarious activity to be able to support several more in a series.

Don't forget to enter the contest (click here for the entry form) to win one of two copies offered by Doubleday. Also, I'm changing the deadline to August 12, since I'll be off the internet until then.  It's a wonderful summer afternoon read, or a great book to jump-start a return from a reading funk, or a pick-me-up for someone under the weather.  It's absolutely delicious.  Don't miss it.

Author: Julia Stuart
Publisher-Format: Doubleday, ARC, 330 pages
Year of publication: 2012
Subject: suspicous death and who's responsible
Setting: Hampton Court Palace, London, 1898
Genre: mystery, amateur sleuth
Source: ARC from the publisher.

Many thanks to Doubleday books for providing a review copy.

1 comment:

  1. I added this to my TBR list not too long ago! It looks great, thanks for more enticement to read it!


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