By the Book @ Rogers Memorial Library

The Pigeon Pie Mystery, by Julia Stuart

pigeonFrom a miserly countess, to a doctor so besotted that he steers his bicycle into the Thames, to a palace housekeeper who is convinced that every resident of Hampton Court Palace is hiding illicit pets, The Pigeon Pie Mystery plays host to one of the largest collections of eccentric, quirky and charming characters found in literature.

It is 1898 — a year since Princess Alexandrina (known as Mink) buried her disgraced father, the Maharaja.  She has no money and all of her servants have been dismissed, except Pooki, the large-footed Indian maid.  A letter arrives from the Queen, offering her “grace-and-favour-residence” at Hampton Court Palace.  Pooki assures her mistress that the Palace is haunted, yet Mink packs up her belongings and moves. Their new home, though large, is dark and damp and abuts a maze, where people are perpetually lost and calling for help.

Mink becomes acquainted with the history of the residents of the Palace, both high and low class, mostly through Pooki’s gossip, along with the cryptic comments of Lady Bebb and the Countess of Bessington.  At her first social outing, the Easter Picnic, Mink is assigned the task of bringing pigeon pies, including a special pie with no eggs for General Bagshot.  Soon after the picnic, General Bagshot dies and suspicion falls upon Pooki. Mink is a strong, independent young woman who won’t allow her maid to be imprisoned for a crime she did not commit.  As Mink investigates the murder, secrets and lies among the grace-and-favor residents and servants come to light.

Julia Stuart captures the feel of Victorian England and the attitudes of the aristocrats who live in Hampton Court.  No matter the depths of their poverty, their upper classsense of superiority reigns supreme.  Yet a subtle shift in the status quo can be detected in this novel, in which the most unlikely people find themselves working together and falling in love.

If you are in the mood for a light, well-written mystery with strong characters and plenty of laughs, The Pigeon Pie Mystery makes a perfect choice.


Leave a Reply