Murder in the palaces of England gives sleuth Jane Bee, housemaid to Her Majesty the Queen, a puzzle to fit for a monarch in the second novel of this charmingly irresistible series.
What is Death at Sandringham House about?
Though this is the only book in the series that I’ve encountered, I imagine the Her Majesty Investigates series is a formulaic mystery series. This book certainly does follow the traditional format of a mystery book–complete with several plot conveniences, red herrings, and the usual gaggle of tropes. This book is essentially what it promises to be: a murder mystery that involves the winter household staff of the Queen of England, unraveled by an unassuming Canadian maid to the royal family.
Genre: Murder Mystery
I have never read a more fitting of the genre book, to be entirely honest. Every single step of the way this book conformed to the beats of its genre in a strangely satisfying way.
Tropes: A Mystery Within a Mystery
The initial mystery–the murder–is presented relatively early on, and becomes the primary focus for the plot. However, another major mystery is presented: that of a mysterious stolen tiara discovered at the scene of the crime.
Plot: How does a maid get away with asking all these questions?
Really, though. Jane Bee is so inquisitive and regularly gets into a small degree of trouble for asking as many questions as she does–but somehow she continues to get answers?
For its predictability, this book is also pretty easy to read and enjoyable. Jane herself is a fine character, though I wasn’t really interested in the personal drama she conducted with her father. I was definitely interested in the twists and turns that the mystery of the tiara presented, and I didn’t find myself catching onto the identity of the killer early on. I think a lot of the twists and red herrings were well thought out.
Sometimes the characters seemed a little larger than life, and there were some anachronistic moments in the language. For the most part, this can be explained by having a main POV character be from another country–but there were definitely times Jane strayed from her Canadian roots and it wasn’t acknowledged. Moments like these occasionally took me out the story, but weren’t so annoying that they ruined my enjoyment of the book.
Okay, there is no way Jane would be allowed to ask that many questions and be present in that many crime scenes. The only time anybody even thinks to question her over involvement in an investigation being actively handled by the police is when it threatens their own personal secrets. Occasionally someone would comment that Jane asks a lot of questions for a maid, or would give her a side glance for popping up somewhere she wasn’t supposed to be, but they would still answer her questions and give her far more information than I think any of them should have been able to give. Also, the thing with the lottery tickets and the queen wasn’t funny it was just odd.
I picked up this book from a Little Free Library and I’m quite pleased I did so. The book sustained entertainment for a while, and despite some of the moments with Jane’s interrogations that felt a bit too unbelievable, I did enjoy all the twists and turns. The suspension of belief was pretty decent when it came to some of the crazy stuff like interacting with the royal family and I found the dual mysteries equally engaging. If you have the opportunity to read this book and really just want a campy mystery, I’d recommend it. Nothing too awe inspiring but a pretty decent basic mystery.