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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Pigeon Pie Mystery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Iryna *Book and Sword*

    2.5/5 stars. (rounded down for GR) I was excited for this book. I kept reading it ,waiting for something big to happen. But alas, nothing exciting ever happened and the whole book was a bit of a drag. In the end I couldn't even remember half of the things that happened, because they felt so irrelevant. However the characters did have interesting secrets and the sarcasm was very much appreciated. Really wish this was better, as it had the potential, but oh well. My WEBSITE My INSTAGRAM My WORDPRESS 2.5/5 stars. (rounded down for GR) I was excited for this book. I kept reading it ,waiting for something big to happen. But alas, nothing exciting ever happened and the whole book was a bit of a drag. In the end I couldn't even remember half of the things that happened, because they felt so irrelevant. However the characters did have interesting secrets and the sarcasm was very much appreciated. Really wish this was better, as it had the potential, but oh well. My WEBSITE My INSTAGRAM My WORDPRESS BLOG

  2. 5 out of 5

    Irene Sauman

    Princess Alexandrina, known as Mink, is the only child of the Maharaja of Prindur, whose English wife died when Mink was six. In 1898, when Mink is in her mid-twenties, the Maharaja dies in embarrassing circumstances el flagrante in an opium den with the girl who cleans the boots and knives. Mink finds herself in straightened circumstances. She is forced to let all the servants go, except for her large-footed Indian nanny/maid Pooki, and to sell their house to pay the Government back for the Princess Alexandrina, known as Mink, is the only child of the Maharaja of Prindur, whose English wife died when Mink was six. In 1898, when Mink is in her mid-twenties, the Maharaja dies in embarrassing circumstances – el flagrante in an opium den with the girl who cleans the boots and knives. Mink finds herself in straightened circumstances. She is forced to let all the servants go, except for her large-footed Indian nanny/maid Pooki, and to sell their house to pay the Government back for the financial support her father had received as a royal guest of the country. Mink and Pooki are offered a grace-and-favour house at Hampton Court Palace, among the other poor aristocrats whom Queen Victoria provided accommodation for. Here she meets Lady Beatrice Fisher, the Hon Dowager Lady Monfort Bebb and the Countess of Bessington, who befriend her, and many odd and interesting characters who live and work at Hampton Court and in the surrounding area. Along with reports of ghosts, poor plumbing and damp, the residents also suffer from the fact that Hampton Court and its extensive gardens are also open to the public. When another resident, Major-General Bagshot, a thoroughly unpleasant fellow, dies after eating Pooki’s pigeon pie at the fair, his death from English cholera is soon changed to death by arsenic poisoning. An inquest is held. The arsenic is believed to have been in the pigeon pie and Pooki becomes the prime suspect. Mink decides to investigate and find the real culprit. I thought I knew how it had happened, but the author had other ideas. Good for her. This isn’t just a murder mystery. This, by the author of Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo, uses the history of another London landmark to create a delightful read full of interesting and quirky characters. It is about friendship and loyalty that transcend the strictures of the English class system. There is also romance. Recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Presley

    The Pigeon Pie Mystery. Look at that name. Now think about it - maybe you will come to the same conclusion I did at first: the mystery must be about who, on earth, would eat pigeon pie? However, that is not the mystery contained within the pages of this insanely witty, very dry, very British book about the HH Princess Alexandrina (Mink) and her maid from India, "Pooki". I don't read a lot of mysteries these days, and when I do I stick to authors that I've found through a (very painful) process The Pigeon Pie Mystery. Look at that name. Now think about it - maybe you will come to the same conclusion I did at first: the mystery must be about who, on earth, would eat pigeon pie? However, that is not the mystery contained within the pages of this insanely witty, very dry, very British book about the HH Princess Alexandrina (Mink) and her maid from India, "Pooki". I don't read a lot of mysteries these days, and when I do I stick to authors that I've found through a (very painful) process that I have honed over the last few years. I don't like sensationalism, but I do like interesting character development - the more quirks the better. Julia Stuart's writing reminds me a bit of Alexander McCall Smith's. But while his writing tends to be about developing the same characters and providing thoughtful insights into life in Botswana, Stuart's writing veers more toward bringing out the ridiculous in those we see around us. She's a fantastic mix of the more outgoing of Austen's awkward situations and McCall Smith's lovable characters. I don't know how to describe it better than that. So, having loved The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise with all its eccentricities and, having been moved to tears more than once (both from laughter and sorrow), I jumped on Stuart's new novel faster than you can say Victoria and Albert. For the last two days I have savoured this novel (look at me, spelling with extra vowels now). I've giggled and enjoyed every quirk - from ghosts to murder mysteries to monkeys to ill-fitting trousers on amorous doctors. And while I'm a bit disappointed that there wasn't the same level of bitter-sweetness in The Pigeon Pie Mystery, I hereby deem it a novel worthy to be read - but only by those who appreciate good, dry British humour (and don't mind picking up an extra vowel or two).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    No one captures quirky characters like Julia Stuart. Her latest novel, The Pigeon Pie Mystery will delight readers with a full cast of eccentric and loveable characters. Set in England in 1898 Stuarts latest is a Victorian murder mystery that will leave readers begging for more! Princess Alexandria, also known as Mink, is devastated by the loss of her father, the Maharaja of Prindur. With the exception of her Indian maid Pooki, who has been her confidant since she was six and suffered the loss No one captures quirky characters like Julia Stuart. Her latest novel, The Pigeon Pie Mystery will delight readers with a full cast of eccentric and loveable characters. Set in England in 1898 Stuart’s latest is a Victorian murder mystery that will leave readers begging for more! Princess Alexandria, also known as Mink, is devastated by the loss of her father, the Maharaja of Prindur. With the exception of her Indian maid Pooki, who has been her confidant since she was six and suffered the loss of her English mother, she finds herself completely alone, and much to her surprise, penniless. Luckily Queen Victoria, who was fond of her father, grants her a grace-and-favor house in Hampton Court Palace. The palace is filled with an unusual mix of aristocracy, servants, and working class folks, many with some avant-garde characteristics. Mink is soon invited to a palace picnic and Pooki bakes a pigeon pie for the event. One of the more distasteful residents Major-General Bagshot eats several slices, becomes ill, and eventually dies. The cause of death, arsenic poisoning. When Pooki is accused of tampering with the pie Mink comes to her defense and immediately begins to investigate other suspects. The list is long and Mink begins to uncover the many secrets of her new acquaintances. Stuart proves she is a master of combining humor and pathos to illuminate humanity. With an agreeable blend of history, wit, and whimsy, Stuart produces another novel that will delight and entertain readers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jo (Mixed Book Bag)

    Mystery The Pigeon Pie Mystery caught my attention when I read that it was set in Hampton Court Palace during the 1800s when it was filled with grace and favor residents. These were given by the Queen for service to the crown. The main character in the book has just moved to Hampton Court Palace and thought it would be a great place for a mystery. Pacing: Usually l like a mystery with a slower pace but for me The Pigeon Pie Mystery was a little to slow. There is a lot of history woven into the Mystery The Pigeon Pie Mystery caught my attention when I read that it was set in Hampton Court Palace during the 1800’s when it was filled with grace and favor residents. These were given by the Queen for service to the crown. The main character in the book has just moved to Hampton Court Palace and thought it would be a great place for a mystery. Pacing: Usually l like a mystery with a slower pace but for me The Pigeon Pie Mystery was a little to slow. There is a lot of history woven into the story and it slowed everything down. The real meat of the story did not start until the last one third of the book. Characters: HH Princess Alexandrina called Mink is the main character. When her Father died she found out there was not money and was forced to move out of her house and into Hampton Court Palace. At times I did not like Mink much. She ran up bills she knew she could not pay and felt it was her right. She was clever and did solve the mystery. Dr. Henderson was her love interest but we saw little of him and less of the two of them together. Pooki, Mink's maid was the best character in the book. She provides a lot of humor throughout the story. There is a huge cast of secondary characters and each plays some part in the story. The list is so long that the book starts with a three page Cast of Character section. Mystery: The death that is at the heart of the mystery did not happen until half way through the book. It was intriguing and the solution was unexpected. I did like how it was handled. Back-story and History: The back-story for Mink was told in more detail than I needed. The author did a lot of research on the history of Hampton Court Palace and much of the history was included in the story. It was interesting but I often felt I was reading a history book not a novel. All in all this is just a OK book for me. It was so slow I often put it down and picked up something that moved a little faster. This is not an author I will read again Doubleday published The Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart in 2012. I received a free ARC of The Pigeon Pie Mystery from Amazon Vine

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I have wanted to read Julia Stuart's The Pigeon Pie Mystery for what feels like absolutely ages, after really enjoying her other three novels (The Matchmaker of Perigord (2007), Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo (2010), and The Pearl Fisher of Scotland (2016). The Pigeon Pie Mystery is her third novel, and is set largely inside Hampton Court Palace and its grounds during the reign of Queen Victoria. As still happens today, the reigning monarch allowed 'grace and favour' residents to I have wanted to read Julia Stuart's The Pigeon Pie Mystery for what feels like absolutely ages, after really enjoying her other three novels (The Matchmaker of Perigord (2007), Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo (2010), and The Pearl Fisher of Scotland (2016). The Pigeon Pie Mystery is her third novel, and is set largely inside Hampton Court Palace and its grounds during the reign of Queen Victoria. As still happens today, the reigning monarch allowed 'grace and favour' residents to make their home in Hampton Court Palace, with their rent, at least, being paid by the state. One such character, whom Stuart focuses upon in this novel, is an Indian Princess named Alexandrina, and nicknamed Mink. She is invited to make her home in the palace in March 1897 after her father dies 'in such unusual circumstances' and leaves her penniless, forcing her to move out of their luxurious home, and into quarters with her hopeless and stubborn maid, Pooki. Soon after she arrives, Mink 'is befriended by three eccentric widows', who invite her to a picnic, along with many other grace and favour residents and their families. Pooki decides to bake a great British favourite, a pigeon pie, for the occasion. At the picnic, nobody touches this, save for General-Major Bagshot, who dies. The coroner discovers traces of arsenic in his system, and Pooki thus becomes the favourite suspect in the ensuing investigation. A 'fun and quirky murder mystery' is promised. This quirkiness is perhaps most apparent with a couple of the peripheral characters, as well as with Stuart's rather inventive chapter headings. These range from 'The Ominous Arrival of the Undertaker' and 'An Unfortunate Incident with the Blancmange', to 'The Hazards of a Stuffed Codpiece'. The character list which has been included also features quite unusual attributes and details about the protagonists. The Countess of Bebbington, for example, is a 'parsimonious widow in perpetual mourning, with an addiction to ferns', and the Watercress Seller who 'hawks outside the palace gate and sleeps in a coffin'. I hoped that The Pigeon Pie Mystery would be just as entertaining as Stuart's other novels, but was left feeling a little disappointed. Whilst there are some undoubtedly creative and amusing elements at play within it, they become lost somewhat in rather a saturated plot, peopled with too many characters. The writing is certainly intelligent here, but it feels as though Stuart was trying to make too many things work; she had too many fingers in too many pies, and the result became something of a muddle, unfortunately. The Pigeon Pie Mystery reads like a comedy of manners; in this way, it does tend to become a little silly in places. Whilst the novel did keep my interest, it was not at all what I was expecting. It felt quite different to Stuart's other books, perhaps just because it is her only historical novel. Although there is great period detail, and a clearly large amount of research which has gone into this work, it feels flatter than it should.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    I'm generally up for light Victorian-set fiction featuring a cast of outsized characters engaged in shenanigans, however... this effort fell kind of flat. The story revolves around Mink -- the half-caste daughter of a deposed Maharajah (and hence, a princess), who finds herself suddenly abandoned, homeless, and destitute upon the death of her father. Fortunately, the Queen favors her with a residence in Hampton Court Palace, where other down-and-out high society members also mark the days. The I'm generally up for light Victorian-set fiction featuring a cast of outsized characters engaged in shenanigans, however... this effort fell kind of flat. The story revolves around Mink -- the half-caste daughter of a deposed Maharajah (and hence, a princess), who finds herself suddenly abandoned, homeless, and destitute upon the death of her father. Fortunately, the Queen favors her with a residence in Hampton Court Palace, where other down-and-out high society members also mark the days. The "mystery" (such as it is), involves the mysterious arsenic poisoning death of an odious Major-General, which Mink must solve in order to clear her maid Pooki, who is suspect #1. Unfortunately, the story moves at such a glacial pace that it's very easy to put it down and walk away for a day or a week or two. Mink is not a particularly sympathetic protagonist, and without someone to drive the story along, it just kind of meanders. The oddballs of Hampton Court are too numerous to be distinct, and they start to blend into each other in a riot of quirk. There are definitely some amusing scenes and moments here and there, but the book ends up feeling more like a riff on a situation than something solid. I suppose Anglophile readers in the mood for something super fluffy might want to give it a try.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Neil Mudde

    What a delightful romp about England, Colonial India, a wonderful love story, dealing with a daughter of a Maharajah, who lost everything during the change over in India, the daughter who is a princess with her wonderful maid. Father dies very happy, meaning during a wild sexual romp which off course in Victorian England is more then shameful. The Princess whose name is "Mink" reason for this name given in the book is given an apartment by none other then Queen Victoria at the Hampton Court What a delightful romp about England, Colonial India, a wonderful love story, dealing with a daughter of a Maharajah, who lost everything during the change over in India, the daughter who is a princess with her wonderful maid. Father dies very happy, meaning during a wild sexual romp which off course in Victorian England is more then shameful. The Princess whose name is "Mink" reason for this name given in the book is given an apartment by none other then Queen Victoria at the Hampton Court Palace which is occupied by all sorts of interesting characters, this book is a funny look at the discusting class system of the Victorian era, but the characters are brought to life by Ms Stuart, I normally avoid reading books going back into history, but this is so worthwhile Throughout the book, there is a love affair brewing with Mink and a Doctor who is an eligible bachelor, whose housekeeper is something else. What a fun book to read, I highly recommend it, and am planning on reading her "The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise"

  9. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    The book has a wonderful cover illustration by Alison Jay.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    After the Maharaja dies, his daughter Princess Alexandrina (aka "Mink") and the last remaining loyal servant Pookie are forced to move to a "grace and favor" residence at Hampton Court Palace. The much loathed Major-General Bagshot dies after eating pigeon pies which were baked by Pookie for the festival. It was determined he'd died of arsenic poisoning. Princess Mink sets out to clear her loyal servant. The mystery in this one is quite mild, but the mystery is not what is front and center here After the Maharaja dies, his daughter Princess Alexandrina (aka "Mink") and the last remaining loyal servant Pookie are forced to move to a "grace and favor" residence at Hampton Court Palace. The much loathed Major-General Bagshot dies after eating pigeon pies which were baked by Pookie for the festival. It was determined he'd died of arsenic poisoning. Princess Mink sets out to clear her loyal servant. The mystery in this one is quite mild, but the mystery is not what is front and center here as much as the subtle humor interspersed throughout the plot and the "upscale village feel" of the work. Even the names of the characters bring a smile to the readers' face as they read or listen to them. This book is probably not for everyone, but those who enjoy a little English comedic humor will enjoy this clever work. I listened to the audio version read by Hannah Curtis. Her female voices are superior to the male ones.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    4.5 stars Another delightfully fun read by Julia Stuart; I am even more determined to read her other books now after reading two. When Mink's father, the Maharaja of Brindor, dies (Mink is her nickname; she was given Queen Victoria's first name) in a very compromising position, she discover's herself nearly penniless due to her father's outrageous spending habits, which she also has. She is offered a six bedroom home in the (very real IRL) grace-and-favour homes by Queen Victoria. She sells her 4.5 stars Another delightfully fun read by Julia Stuart; I am even more determined to read her other books now after reading two. When Mink's father, the Maharaja of Brindor, dies (Mink is her nickname; she was given Queen Victoria's first name) in a very compromising position, she discover's herself nearly penniless due to her father's outrageous spending habits, which she also has. She is offered a six bedroom home in the (very real IRL) grace-and-favour homes by Queen Victoria. She sells her home, her father's menagerie and various and sundry other things to pay off her father's government debts and moves with her last servant, Pooki who is a small, skinny woman with very large feet. Once she has moved, we are introduced to a delicious cast of quirky characters with delightful names and tales of haunting. But when a General dies, it doesn't take long before Pookie is considered the leading suspect and Mink decides to investigate. Let's not forget that she is accused of falling in love by Pooki. What can I say, other than I am a fan of Stuart's writing, and even though I desperately want to keep my average rating from soaring, I cannot tell a lie here and am rounding it up.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    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 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. If Goodread let us give 1/2 stars I'd have given it 4 1/2.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily Crowe

    Totally disappointed in this book, which lacked almost everything I loved about the author's previous book, The Tower the Zoo and the Tortoise (which I think was published under a different name in the UK). While I thought Pigeon Pie had the potential to be another charmer filled with gentle humor and quirky characters, it mostly fell completely flat, lacking both the sparkle and the emotional heft of the other book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    OLT

    (Maybe 2.5 stars) Some of the absurdity of this book is difficult to distinguish from the history. For example, a barometer invented by George Merryweather which uses leeches kept in small bottles? That's absurd. It's also true. So many little details and trivia of Victorian England are thrown in here to entertain that the fact/fiction line becomes blurred. Thank goodness for Google. Otherwise, I would have thought things like this leech barometer were totally a fiction of the author's. So this (Maybe 2.5 stars) Some of the absurdity of this book is difficult to distinguish from the history. For example, a barometer invented by George Merryweather which uses leeches kept in small bottles? That's absurd. It's also true. So many little details and trivia of Victorian England are thrown in here to entertain that the fact/fiction line becomes blurred. Thank goodness for Google. Otherwise, I would have thought things like this leech barometer were totally a fiction of the author's. So this is entertaining and educational. A cozy mystery set in late Victorian England with an eccentric cast of characters. However, for me, the reading of it became quite tedious. There was no real depth to any character and after a while their quirky behavior became annoying. And as a mystery it falls short. I can see that, if you are in the right frame of mind and also enjoy a lighter, sillier read, this would be right up your alley. My alley prefers more realistically-drawn, 3-dimensional people and I like factual information that contributes to the story rather than being dumped in to get the reader thinking "Can this be true?" but not having much relationship to the plot at hand. Actually, in this case, the trivia distracts the reader and detracts from the mystery, if indeed one reads this for the mystery element.

  15. 4 out of 5

    John

    Princess Alexandrina, nicknamed Mink, lives a lavish lifestyle with her widowed father, the Maharaja of Prindur, in London. However, when the Maharaja dies in compromising circumstances, Mink finds herself penniless. Queen Victoria rescues her by offering a "grace-and-favour" home within the Hampton Court Palace. Once she and her servant, the large footed and outspoken Pooki arrives, they are invited to a picnic to meet the other residents. She asks Pooki to bake a pigeon pie for the occasion, a Princess Alexandrina, nicknamed Mink, lives a lavish lifestyle with her widowed father, the Maharaja of Prindur, in London. However, when the Maharaja dies in compromising circumstances, Mink finds herself penniless. Queen Victoria rescues her by offering a "grace-and-favour" home within the Hampton Court Palace. Once she and her servant, the large footed and outspoken Pooki arrives, they are invited to a picnic to meet the other residents. She asks Pooki to bake a pigeon pie for the occasion, a favorite dish for the much reviled and fellow resident, Major-General Bagshot. After eating several slices, the Major-General dies from what is later revealed as arsenic poisoning and Pooki becomes the primary suspect. Mink has little time to do her own sleuthing to uncover the true murderer within the many eccentric residents, each with a motive to want to murder the Major-General. This cozy mystery will have you guessing while walking with Mink as she gathers clues from the often odd occupants. Juxtaposed with her quest, you will also laugh as Pooki plays matchmaker between Mink and the local physician, Dr. Henderson.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    Mink is an Indian Princess who falls on hard times when her father suddenly passes during some unsavory circumstances. Mink's faithful maid Pooki sticks by her and together they move into a grace and favor residence. The dispecable Major General Bagshot is dispatched with a poisened pigeon pie baked by Pooki so the blame for his death falls on her. Mink must uncover the true murderer in order to save her maid while in the processs uncovering some interesting secrets held by her neighbors in Mink is an Indian Princess who falls on hard times when her father suddenly passes during some unsavory circumstances. Mink's faithful maid Pooki sticks by her and together they move into a grace and favor residence. The dispecable Major General Bagshot is dispatched with a poisened pigeon pie baked by Pooki so the blame for his death falls on her. Mink must uncover the true murderer in order to save her maid while in the processs uncovering some interesting secrets held by her neighbors in Hampton court. I enjoyed this book set in Victorian England. I learned a lot that I didn't know from reading this novel. Maybe a little too much because at times the novel dragged. The mystery itself doesn't take place until the middle of the book but I found the resolution of it very interesting. There was a lot of character development in the first half of the book and now that the backstory of everyone is down I hope the author will use it to expand on future adventures for the delightful characters she created.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    This book was really simplistic. Fun, in that it was a quick, easy read and some loveable characters. I enjoyed the setting, learning a bit about the (ridiculous) English manners of the Victorian era...at the same time, it sometimes went too far into trivial, uninteresting information about certain characters, and I found myself skimming that part. The Princess goes along trying to discover the murderer, and while it is a fun read, there aren't any real clues she finds...just motives of This book was really simplistic. Fun, in that it was a quick, easy read and some loveable characters. I enjoyed the setting, learning a bit about the (ridiculous) English manners of the Victorian era...at the same time, it sometimes went too far into trivial, uninteresting information about certain characters, and I found myself skimming that part. The Princess goes along trying to discover the murderer, and while it is a fun read, there aren't any real clues she finds...just motives of individuals. In the end, she solves it, and it just so happened I had a feeling it would be the person it was, but there was really no information to include that. So in the end, after not observing any real clues, she makes a Herculean leap like you see in Agatha Christie, extrapolating the whole scenario from a couple of minor clues. What's irritating, is that you wonder why she isn't looking into this sort of thing - as she never does - and then all of a sudden, for reasons I didn't get, she does finally investigate one potentially obvious scenario.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I enjoyed Julia Stuart's other novel The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise and looked forward to reading The Pigeon Pie Mystery. This novel takes place in Hampton Court in the late 1800s among the grace and favour residents who were aristocracy who had fallen on hard times and were given apartments free of charge. A Princess and her maid are forced to move to Hampton Court after the scandalous death of her father. Slowly, she makes friends and during the Easter picnic, the generally disliked I enjoyed Julia Stuart's other novel The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise and looked forward to reading The Pigeon Pie Mystery. This novel takes place in Hampton Court in the late 1800s among the grace and favour residents who were aristocracy who had fallen on hard times and were given apartments free of charge. A Princess and her maid are forced to move to Hampton Court after the scandalous death of her father. Slowly, she makes friends and during the Easter picnic, the generally disliked General Bagshot dies after eating pigeon pie prepared by the princess' maid. The princess makes it her mission to save her maid from the hangman's noose. It is a bit slow moving and the princess' friends all had names that started with the letter "B" which led to confusion on my part ( I kept having to think about which was which whenever the re-entered the story). This is definitely a cosy crime, but a little too sweet and slow for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katey Thompson

    Although the dialogue had its moments, this story suffered from a lack of conflict. Sure there was a murder, but I like my sleuth to be imperiled too- not just politely shunting from one conversation to the next. Give me a reason to care! To be anxious! To turn pages at a healthy speed! The cast of character thrust upon my notice before the story had even begun was confusing too. I kept getting them all mixed up and had to constantly refer back to the list so I wouldn't get them mixed-up, which Although the dialogue had its moments, this story suffered from a lack of conflict. Sure there was a murder, but I like my sleuth to be imperiled too- not just politely shunting from one conversation to the next. Give me a reason to care! To be anxious! To turn pages at a healthy speed! The cast of character thrust upon my notice before the story had even begun was confusing too. I kept getting them all mixed up and had to constantly refer back to the list so I wouldn't get them mixed-up, which was annoying. And is it really necessary to list characters who make one brief appearance in the story before fading back into oblivion? You also learned too much about everyone too quickly. All good books, and especially mysteries should leave you guessing, don't you think? This book had promise, but sadly, failed to deliver.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    first of all, i must thank the kindly people at doubleday publishers for sending me a free arc of this book, due to the fact that i had written what they considered to be a good review of julia stuart's previous book. you know how when you start reading a book, in many cases you can tell almost right away whether or not you are going to love it or hate it? well this book was definitely one of the former. from the very first page, i was completely swept up in the story. what a wonderful book it first of all, i must thank the kindly people at doubleday publishers for sending me a free arc of this book, due to the fact that i had written what they considered to be a good review of julia stuart's previous book. you know how when you start reading a book, in many cases you can tell almost right away whether or not you are going to love it or hate it? well this book was definitely one of the former. from the very first page, i was completely swept up in the story. what a wonderful book it was, a victorian mystery with a fantastic cast of extremely eccentric characters, many of whom become suspects, although i am happy to say that until all was revealed, i had no idea who the culprit was, which to me is the sign of a very good mystery. so if you like a great mystery, or just good writing in general, you should really give this one a try. i can't wait for her next book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    I very much enjoyed the quirky characters and the humorous writing. The mystery itself wasn't gripping, but the other more charming aspects of the novel carried me through.

  22. 5 out of 5

    EditorialEyes

    Read this and other reviews at EditorialEyes Book Reviews. ~*~ 4 out 5 The Maharaja is dead, the doctor has driven his bicycle into the Thames, and the pigeon pie might be poisoned. It's all just a day in the life of the characters in Julia Stuart's sly, crisply quirky The Pigeon Pie Mystery. The year is 1898. Daughter of an English noblewoman and an Indian Maharaja, Princess Alexandrina (nicknamed "Mink" at a young age because of her penchant for sleeping amongst her mother's furs) finds herself Read this and other reviews at EditorialEyes Book Reviews. ~*~ 4 out 5 The Maharaja is dead, the doctor has driven his bicycle into the Thames, and the pigeon pie might be poisoned. It's all just a day in the life of the characters in Julia Stuart's sly, crisply quirky The Pigeon Pie Mystery. The year is 1898. Daughter of an English noblewoman and an Indian Maharaja, Princess Alexandrina (nicknamed "Mink" at a young age because of her penchant for sleeping amongst her mother's furs) finds herself without any option but to take up Her Royal Highness's offer of a grace-and-favour warrant to live at Hampton Court Palace. Her father died in scandal and financial ruin, which has caused her fiancé to flee from the taint of impropriety. The palace is home to a number of nobles who no longer have the means to support themselves, but who have curried favour with the Queen. Her new living quarters are free of charge though not free of intrigue, headaches, meddlesome housekeepers, and murder. As she settles into her new home with her only remaining servant Pooki, the maid who all but raised her after the death of Mink's mother, she is introduced to the zany cast of characters who live in and around the palace. And life is busy, from verbal sparring with Dr. Henderson, who is deeply competitive with the homeopath from East Molesey and deeply attracted to the Princess, to having luncheons with the Ladies Beatrice, Bessington, and Monfort Bebb, to shopping for the latest fashions in spite of her inability to pay the bills. It's all fun and games and discussion of exactly which hats and what fabrics to wear in mourning and half-mourning and for how long, based on status and relation to the deceased, until someone else turns up dead: General Bagshot, who is, of course, the most reviled resident of Hampton Court Palace. When it comes to light that he was poisoned, the most likely suspect is Pooki, who baked the pigeon pie the general ate before his death. But Mink is determined to discover who the real culprit is. The married general's sexual advances toward both nobles (including Mink) and servants, and his numerous complaints and antagonisms of residents and palace employees alike mean the trail of suspects is long, and as Mink uses her intellect and wiles to investigate each person, she comes across a host of other secrets as well. This book is far from a straight-ahead murder mystery, however, and indeed the first third of it is taken up by the story of Mink's financial downfall and entertaining tangents into the lives and histories of the characters. These include the Maharaja and the girl who came to clean the boots and the knives, and Pooki's abandonment in England after acting as a travelling nanny from India. We learn the stories of Mink's trio of new friends (and the ways in which they criticize each other and the world around them in brittle and oh so British ways), and of the Keeper of the Maze, of the American paleontologist visiting the Bagshots, of Lady Monfort Bebb's experiences as a hostage during the First Afghan War, and of the travails of Mrs. Boots, the put-upon housekeeper of the palace (whose protestations that she's not one for gossip are rather suspect). Stuart paints a large, lavish picture of fin-de-siècle British life. Hampton Court Palace, in all of its grandeur and its flaws, comes alive, as do the streams of lower-class tourists who visit it, causing no end of grief for the residents. The clothing, the language, and the rigid manners and social rules of the time are all on display here. The somewhat omniscient point of view allows Stuart to wink at the reader as she shows the ladies' horror at the crude American's lack of manners. The day after the ladies are horrified that Cornelius B. Pilgrim brings his hat and cane into luncheon with him, he visits Mink: "After thanking him for coming at such short notice, she spotted Pooki's look of confusion as she closed the door. The Princess immediately saw the reason. He had failed to bring in with him his hat and cane as English etiquette dictated on a brief visit to a mere acquaintance, having left them in the hall as if he were a friend about to stay for luncheon" (p. 176). This is never precious or overly knowing, but it does allow us a rich glance into a totally different social norm. The characters are well written and three-dimensional. I particularly loved Pooki, her superstitious practicality, her devotion to Mink even as she talks back and disagrees more than the average maid would, and the genuine humanity of her certainty and fear that she will be hanged for the murder. The everyday issues of palace life are authentic and fun to read, from the woes of the Keeper of the Maze, whose job it is to shout directions down to people lost in the palace's hedge maze, to Dr. Henderson's experiences being measured at the tailor. This does, however, lead to something I found a bit irritating, the tendency to tell all of this background in the narration, rather than letting it come out through dialogue, in the characters' own words and voices. As a shortcut every so often, I don't mind this, but as a consistently used device I found it distracting. The titular mystery is far more a reason to let us spend time with these characters in this setting than necessarily to figure out who done it. There's no real fear that justice won't win the day, and the mystery often takes a back seat to all of the goings-on. How you react to this will greatly impact how much you enjoy the book. If you're looking for more traditional detective fiction, with a lot of suspense and page-turning twists and turns, this might not be the read for you. If you want to spend time in 1898 and enjoy the ladies' horror that American women wear their diamonds in the morning, then you'll be right at home. The slower pacing and careful attention to weaving historical detail into an authentic story rules the day here. And I genuinely didn't know until the very end the solution to the puzzle, both the who and the how. The Pigeon Pie Mystery is rather like the maze at Hampton Court Palace. It's a slow stroll along wending pathways, a thoroughly charming, funny, and affecting set of interweaving stories and fascinating settings. If the very sequel-ready ending does indeed lead to a series of Mink & Pooki books, I will happily read them all.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Terry Southard

    Actually 3 1/2 stars, but I rounded down rather than up. I found the mystery lacking but I loved the characters - so I hope that there is a follow-up to this one. The book made me smile all the way through - the sarcasm and snarky humor was something I didn't expect. You've got to love it when a character asks, "How mad SHOULD your hatter be?" And there is actually an ANSWER for that. I couldn't quite keep all the titled folks separate, and had to keep referring back - oh, SHE'S the one with the Actually 3 1/2 stars, but I rounded down rather than up. I found the mystery lacking but I loved the characters - so I hope that there is a follow-up to this one. The book made me smile all the way through - the sarcasm and snarky humor was something I didn't expect. You've got to love it when a character asks, "How mad SHOULD your hatter be?" And there is actually an ANSWER for that. I couldn't quite keep all the titled folks separate, and had to keep referring back - oh, SHE'S the one with the ferns......etc. More distinguishable names would have helped. But overall, quite enjoyable. And I know a person who will just LOVE this one, so I will definitely recommend it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    The audiobook version of this was SO delightful. You can't help but be happy while listening to this on a beautiful spring weekend.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Venum

    I very much enjoyed reading this book. Very entertaining and informational.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katye Wood

    Closer to a 4 by the end, because I find myself a bit attached to the characters by the time the story drew to a close.

  27. 4 out of 5

    QNPoohBear

    3.5 stars This Victorian cozy mystery begins with the death of the Maharaja of Brindor. He died in a most scandalous fashion leaving his only daughter, Princess Alexandrina ("Mink") penniless. Mink has orders from the bank to sell her house but she prefers to remain in the home she shared with her beloved father with her pets and her maid Pooki. When she can finally ignore the bank no longer, Queen Victoria offers Mink and Pooki a Grace and Favour residence at Hampton Court. Pooki is reluctant to 3.5 stars This Victorian cozy mystery begins with the death of the Maharaja of Brindor. He died in a most scandalous fashion leaving his only daughter, Princess Alexandrina ("Mink") penniless. Mink has orders from the bank to sell her house but she prefers to remain in the home she shared with her beloved father with her pets and her maid Pooki. When she can finally ignore the bank no longer, Queen Victoria offers Mink and Pooki a Grace and Favour residence at Hampton Court. Pooki is reluctant to move in among with catty old dowagers and creepy ghosts, but Mink knows they have no choice. She soon meets her neighbors, a quirky lot if there ever was one, but no ghosts. When the old roue General Bagshott drops dead after eating Pooki's pigeon pie, the Inspector on the case is eager to arrest Pooki. Mink knows Pooki would never murder anyone. While Pooki doesn't behave as she ought, speaking her mind and telling tradesmans' jokes, she has been nothing but loyal and loving to Mink. Mink is determined to find out who killed the General before it's too late. Her search takes her around Hampton Court as she interviews the residents, the workers and tries to dodge the awkward attentions of the local doctor. Could it have been one of the old dowagers eager to keep their secrets and their homes? The weird homeopath who last treated the General? The strange American paleontologist who doesn't seem to have viewed any dinosaurs lately? What about the cranky housekeeper or the maid Alice who was fired from the Bagshotts for stealing? This story is a little long for a cozy mystery. There's a whole lot of description about the historical background of Hampton Court, the architecture and the backgrounds of the characters. Mink and Pooki travel around Victorian London sharing every detail with the reader. While I love history and historical detail, a lot of this could have been put in an author's note in the back or a list of resources to do research to learn more. While the author does a decent job incorporating the details into the plot or dialogue, they take away from the mystery. The mystery doesn't get started until halfway through and it didn't grab me and make me want to stay up all night. There were so many suspects that it was impossible to know whodunnit. The big reveal of who wasn't too much of a surprise but how and why were shockers. The why ended up as a bit of a let down. The story lacked that heart-pounding moment when the heroine gets into trouble. There's a romance, and it's clean because it's a non-romance essentially. The characters are hardly together and when they are, it's not romantic. I didn't like the love interest very much and didn't find them a good match. While the love story is clean, other parts of the book are not. The way Mink's father died was very crude and some of the doctor's patients have very adult problems. With a little trimming, this book could have been a nice book for all ages 13+ but as is, I'd put it at at least 18+. The characters are what make this book stand out. They're all so quirky. While they all tend to blend together after awhile, they add a lot of the humor to the story. Some of the ladies and the situations reminded me of Cranford. Mink is a difficult character to like. I wanted to love her because she seemed like a New Woman - physically free and fearless, but she's mostly another bored aristocrat. The story doesn't dig too deeply into her thoughts and feelings. We do learn why she loves Pooki so much and how she came to be very much her father's daughter. The ending of the story leaves her in a position for a possible sequel or sequels (I hope, please?!) so there's more potential for character development. The pets don't play a huge role in the story. I was expecting more but they exist for comedic effect. My favorite character is Pooki. She's so different from English maids. Her feet are huge, her skin is dark and she's superstitious about everything. Pooki is funny, unintentionally, sweet, loving and kind. She also knows Mink better than Mink knows herself and she would willingly die for her beloved employer. I felt for her and I rooted for her to be happy and safe. I think cozy mystery fans will enjoy this book a lot. I'm hoping for a sequel or two or more... I don't want to let go of the characters.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Tiner

    Princess Alexandrina, also known as Mink, daughter to the deceased Maharaja of Prindur, is used to the lavish lifestyle of a princess. After her fathers death, however, she discovers that her fathers spending habits, and a little of her own, have landed her in a pile of debt and the government is demanding she turn over her home to help pay the debts. When Queen Victoria offers Mink and her maid, Pooki, a grace-and-favor home at Hampton Court Palace, Mink accepts. Pooki is very superstitious and Princess Alexandrina, also known as Mink, daughter to the deceased Maharaja of Prindur, is used to the lavish lifestyle of a princess. After her father’s death, however, she discovers that her father’s spending habits, and a little of her own, have landed her in a pile of debt and the government is demanding she turn over her home to help pay the debts. When Queen Victoria offers Mink and her maid, Pooki, a grace-and-favor home at Hampton Court Palace, Mink accepts. Pooki is very superstitious and the rumors that the palace is haunted frighten her, but she is determined to stay with Mink. At first things aren’t all that bad, Mink and Pooki both manage to make some friends among the other grace-and-favor residents. When they are invited to an annual picnic, Pooki makes pigeon pie for the occasion. After the Major-general, an odious man who no one seems to like, dies of arsenic poisoning, all evidence points to Pooki and her pigeon pies. Can Mink solve the mystery behind the Major-general’s murder in time to save Pooki from the gallows? This book was a delightful surprise. The first half of the book is very informative of the life of Mink, her maid, Pooki, and the general habits and ways of life in the Victorian era. I also had never heard of the grace-and-favor apartments before reading this novel, which I found very interesting. I had no idea that such a place existed. The characters come across as unique, if nothing else. Mink’s family history compounded two separate ways of life very nicely and her maid, Pooki, was a very entertaining character with all of her many superstitions and her abnormally large feet. Her background story is unlike any I have found before and helps make her such a unique character. Personally, my favorite character was Pooki. This book is a kind of historical cozy mystery. Mink is our primary investigator as she rushes to find the truth in order to save Pooki’s life. Her investigative skills are interesting, and for me, slightly boring. The majority of this novel does not focus on the solution of who murdered the Major-general and seems to focus much more on the everyday life of Mink and her neighbors. This was a little annoying, not that the new information was not interesting or helpful but because there was supposed to be a mystery and for half of the book there wasn’t one. All in all, I enjoyed this novel and found it interesting. I would give it three out of five stars. As far as I am aware, it is a standalone novel and not part of a series. Though this book was a standalone, I may attempt to read more Julia Stuart novels in the future. I would recommend this novel to fans of historical cozy mysteries. I bought my copy of this novel at my local Habitat for Humanity and have received permission from the publishers at Doubleday to use an image of the cover artwork above. stephanietiner.weebly.com

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    When the Maharaja of Brindor suddenly dies, his daughter, the Princess Alexandrina is left virtually penniless. Thankfully, Queen Victoria grants her a grace-and-favor home in Hampton Court Palace. Shortly after her arrival to Hampton Court Palace she is invited to a picnic with her new neighbors and is given the assignment of bringing a pigeon pie. Unfortunately, the slimy General-Major Bagshot dies after eating the pie, and the coroner finds traces of arsenic in his body. The Princess's lady When the Maharaja of Brindor suddenly dies, his daughter, the Princess Alexandrina is left virtually penniless. Thankfully, Queen Victoria grants her a grace-and-favor home in Hampton Court Palace. Shortly after her arrival to Hampton Court Palace she is invited to a picnic with her new neighbors and is given the assignment of bringing a pigeon pie. Unfortunately, the slimy General-Major Bagshot dies after eating the pie, and the coroner finds traces of arsenic in his body. The Princess's lady maid Pooki, who made the pigeon pie, becomes the number one suspect in the murder investigation. Convinced of Pooki's innocence, the Princess sets out to find who the real murderer is. Through her investigation she learns numerous intimacies and secrets of the residents and workers of Hampton Court Palace while at the same time being romantically pursued by a rather silly doctor. Can she find out the truth in time to save Pooki from arrest and being sent to the gallows? I absolutely love Julia Stuart's characters. They are so wacky, yet lovable and sincere. The individual stories that Stuart weaves around each character are so sweet and often tender. As was the case in The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise, The Pigeon Pie Mystery is filled with ridiculous, British humor. I often found myself laughing out loud at the quirky things the doctor and Pooki were doing and appreciated how Stuart poked fun at the ridiculous social customs of 1890s, England. I enjoyed this book, though not quite as much as The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise. Despite the lovable characters, the story moved rather slowly and didn't have a redeeming ending like 'The Tower' did for me. I will be curious to watch this author and see what she comes up with next. I think she has amazing potential to grow in her writing and create fabulous stories in the future. I also think that many writers could learn some valuable lessons about character development from Stuart. ____________ Overall Rating: 3 1/2 Stars Parent’s guide: Sex: a reference to someone having had sex Violence: a man is poisoned and dies Language: diety, a man attempts to seduce a woman

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Received an Advanced Reader copy of this and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was at first skeptical about this book because I enjoyed Julia Stuart's first novel, The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise so very much and seeing that she had completely changed time periods I wondered if a different century might diminish my enjoyment of this author...not so! This was simply delightful. When Queen Victoria grants a "Grace-and-favor" residence at Hampton Court to penniless Indian Princess Alexandrina and her Received an Advanced Reader copy of this and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was at first skeptical about this book because I enjoyed Julia Stuart's first novel, The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise so very much and seeing that she had completely changed time periods I wondered if a different century might diminish my enjoyment of this author...not so! This was simply delightful. When Queen Victoria grants a "Grace-and-favor" residence at Hampton Court to penniless Indian Princess Alexandrina and her lady's maid, Pooki, we are allowed in to the lives of the privileged few eccentric souls who live in royal residences at the "grace and favor" of the reigning monarch. I had never considered the logistics of such a life but found it most interesting. In her last book Stuart did a wonderful job delving into the lives of current guards "Beefeaters," and their lives at the Tower of London. She set her research and storytelling skills in this newer work on Hampton Court Palace, a favorite of Henry VIII, located a few miles down the river from London. Delightful, full of historic tidbits about the palace and its history, this should delight Anglophiles and Royal historians alike. The "mystery" was almost a secondary story and the event referred to in the title didn't even take place until almost halfway through the book which will probably frustrate the true mystery fan. In all fairness, I kept wondering why "mystery" was in the title since it took so long for this book to actually become a mystery. The storyline is rather Austenesque in that it is more of a Victorian social class commentary than a rousing, plot-driven story. I happen to enjoy that type of tale when I'm in the right mood, especially if its setting is one that interests me and Hampton Court does.

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