The Pigeon Pie Mystery

The Pigeon Pie Mystery - Julia Stuart, Alison Jay From the first sentence, "As the hail bounced on the carriage roof, Mink suddenly wondered whether she ought to buy mourning knickers," the reader is caught up in The Pigeon Pie Mystery: A Novel by Julia Stuart, an enjoyable tale of manners and mysteries in Victorian London.

Princess Alexandrina (aka Mink) and her maid Pooki are the newest grace-and-favour residents of Hampton Court Palace. The other grace-and-favour residents are mostly widows of military men, and those who have fallen on hard times. The residents remain staunchly (and humorously) upper-class, despite their parsimonious natures or financial changes in circumstances.

Pigeon pies (each adorned with six pigeon legs) are customary at the annual Easter picnic at Hampton Court. Pooki makes the pies for the picnic this year. The pie without eggs, for their loathsome lecherous neighbor Major-General Bagshot, is always distinguished by only three pigeon legs sticking up. As he is eating his third slice, the General suddenly becomes ill, and passes away later that day. As the autopsy shows traces of arsenic in all organs, the cause of death is found to be arsenic poisoning.

To Police Inspector Guppy, Pooki is the obvious suspect. To Mink, Guppy is the police inspector who hasn't got a clue, so she begins her own investigation. Mink makes many discoveries about the other delightful Hampton Court residents, even some that aid in Pooki's defense.

The pace is slow at times, but of course to rush things in Victorian London society is simply not done. I recommend this book, an advance copy of which I received for free through Goodreads First Reads.