The Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart

pigeonpieI loved The Tower, the Tortoise, and the Zoo, so when I saw she had another book out I had to try it. More than that, when I saw the cover I was immediately attracted because I recognized the artwork as being by Allison Jay, and it was just perfect for this title.

Much like The Tower..  it is filled with fascinating details about a very specific (and very bizarre to a 21st century American) place in England, specifically the grace-and-favor cottages in Victorian England.  These “cottages” are residences in a big estate, owned by the Queen, and given rent free to certain individuals.  In this case one is offered to an Indian princess.In fact, she was born and raised in England, but her late father (who died in a rather bawdy manner) was an ousted Maharajah.  So right there are all sorts of exotic details.  So she moves into the residence with her stalwart servant and delves into the gossipy community of mostly widowers and widows and other genteely impoverished folk who bicker all the time.  What’s funny and fascinating is that I read about three-quarters of the book picturing the princess hanging out with these elderly 70 and 80 year old women and then I found out they were in their late 30s!!

So after an Easter picnic a much disliked gentleman dies and it seems that he died from poisoning, specifically from the pigeon pie her maid made. It seems more and more likely that she will be arrested and executed for the crime, but the Princess is determined to solve the mystery.  Meanwhile there are all sorts of very funny details and turns of phrase and the characters are a hoot.  It’s a wonderful blend of peculiar history and fine writing. I really have no idea if she has a very wide audience, but she should.

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