The Pigeon Pie Mystery
Princess “Mink” is left destitute after the sudden death of her father — a displaced Maharaja — in a scandalous situation. Queen Victoria intervenes and offers Mink a “Grace-and-Favor” home (where impoverished aristocrats live at the government’s expense) at Hampton Court.
Mink and her Indian maid, Pookie, reluctantly move into the palace, a place rumored to be haunted. Pookie fears the ghosts, while Mink fears having to curb her spending habits. Mink soon meets the eccentric inhabitants of the court, including the lecherous Major-General Bagshot. At a group picnic, Bagshot dies after eating a pigeon pie prepared by Pookie. The humble maid is now the number one suspect in his murder. Mink refuses to allow her maid and friend to hang and sets about investigating who might have killed Bagshot — a man few people liked.
The joy of this novel is in the kooky characters and the subtle — and not so subtle — humor. I laughed out loud several times. Every person at Hampton Court has a reason to want Bagshot dead, and surprises abound. Stuart has a way with sly phrases and wry absurdities. The historical setting and history behind Hampton Court and the Grace-and-Favor homes add to the novel’s quirky layers. Mink and Pookie are characters you will root for.