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The Pigeon Pie Mystery Hardcover – 8 Aug 2012


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Hardcover, 8 Aug 2012
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell (8 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385535562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385535564
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 3 x 22.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Aug 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Princess Alexandrina (Mink) has lost almost everything - first her English mother in childbirth, then her father, a reckless and charming Maharajah, her house in London to debts and, finally, her suitor Mark Cavendish, fleeing the hint of scandal due to her father's rather unsavoury demise. Relocating in a 'grace and favour' house at Hampton Court, she has to overcome her fear of change and her Indian maid Pooki's horror of ghosts. Finding her way around her new environment, Mink is befriended by Lady Beatrice, Lady Mortfort Bebb and Lady Bessington. They invite her to the annual residents picnic, during which Pooki is asked to provide some pigeon pies. During the picnic General Bagshot is taken ill and, when he dies, Pooki's pigeon pies are regarded as the source of poisoning. Unable to face losing her irritating, but much loved maid, as well as everything else, Mink sets out to solve the crime. Along the way she uncovers motives and secrets from both the other residents and those that work at the Palace, while trying to stop Inspector Guppy from tightening the noose around her beloved Pooki.

This is a really fun mystery, with great characters and genuine humour. There is one great scene where the Vicar insists on singing a different song to that the organist is playing, while the congregation join in using class considerations as to which side they should take, which actually made me laugh aloud. There are a fair amount of social and class stereotypes, but the characters are interesting and you care about what happens to them. Hampton Court Palace and the Victorian setting are also well done, the mystery well plotted, and I hope we hear much more from Mink - I look forward greatly to reading more about this intelligent and resourceful heroine.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 26 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great fun to read but not a complete beach read; it has more substance. This was the first book i have read by this author and after having finished it I have been tempted to buy more.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Aug 2013
Format: Hardcover
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.
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1 of 13 people found the following review helpful By TerryL on 28 Aug 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Someone is having a laugh, but it's not me. This book was recommended to me by someone who actually works at Hampton Court Palace, so I thought I'd come looking on Amazon.co.uk. I will not be buying a copy however - £15.29 for the hardback and £13.76 for the Kindle edition... WHAT!!!!

OK, the Kindle eBook incurs 20% VAT (about £2.30), but come on, someone having a laugh all the way to the bank.

Printed books need paper, card, ink, machines to produce each copy. Kindle eBooks, once the file is mastered require none of those, nor the physical storage space for stock to be held or the cost of transport and shipping (OK, a little distribution cost for bandwidth).

I shall be visiting the library and if they have it I can read it for nothing and nothing extra in that bank account for whoever is setting the excessive prices.

One star because I can't leave it blank, that's not a comment on the book, but a comment on the pricing of the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 109 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
All very cozy 7 Sep 2012
By Susan Tunis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
An old adage goes, "you can't judge a book by its cover." But can you judge it by its title? The title of Julia Stuart's The Pigeon Pie Mystery screamed cozy mystery to me, a genre I'm not especially fond of. But I ignored the obvious because I'd absolutely loved Stuart's previous novel, The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise. That feel-good delight was my introduction to Stuart's work, and it bore no resemblance to a traditional cozy. I had faith in Ms. Stuart.

And what did I get? A traditional cozy. The Pigeon Pie Mystery was exactly what the title proclaimed it to be, without any distinguishing flourishes or embellishments. Set in Britain at the tail end of the 19th century, it is the story of the Princess Alexandrina (AKA Mink), the daughter of the Maharaja of Prindur. Already exiled from their ancestral home, Mink's situation becomes significantly more dire after her father's death under scandalous circumstances. Her long anticipated engagement disintegrates, and she and her maid Pooki must accept the Queen's charity in the form of a dreary grace-and-favor home at Hampton Court Palace. As both lady and maid adjust to their changed circumstances, readers are introduced to the extensive cast of quirky characters that call the community home.

And it is all of these neighbors, and those who serve them, that become the suspects when Mink's most odious neighbor dies under circumstances highly incriminating to her maid. As with all cozies, Mink becomes an amateur detective, determined to solve the crime and save Pooki. And will she find love along the way?

I found The Pigeon Pie Mystery to be perfectly average, which was a huge disappointment. It was utterly lacking the immense charm of the author's prior novel. I never really warmed up to the characters, and consequently had little investment in the romantic subplot. This novel's humor fell way flat. I mean, the maid had big feet? The mystery was adequate, I suppose, but it felt like it took ages and ages for the mystery plot to get going. First there was the world-building of the Victorian setting, the exposition of the protagonist's background, the introduction of dozens of secondary characters, sub-plots about pet monkeys that never really did go anywhere... Enough already; I'm getting old!

Others have suggested this surfeit of information is because The Pigeon Pie Mystery is merely the first of a series to feature Mink and Pooki. If that is the case, I will be disappointed. I'm afraid Ms. Stuart's name on a book's cover is no longer enough of a draw. Next time I will look a bit closer before I leap.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A comparative review 9 Aug 2012
By R2D2 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Let me point out at the outset that readers who have read Julia Stuart's other books are bound to read this book with a different set of expectations compared to those who haven't. I would attribute the following commonalities to JS's novels so far:
1. Quirky characters
2. Amusing writing style
3. Slow pace of plot development
4. Clues/questions strewn throughout the novel resolved/answered at the end
5. Well researched settings
The Pigeon Pie Mystery (PPM) follows the same formula. If you haven't read any of JS's books before and want to just read a book for slow entertainment, you might like this. If you have loved her other books, then it probably means you just enjoy her formula plain and simple, and so you can't possibly hate this one. But, if you are looking for a serious mystery novel, then I would not recommend this book.

Since I absolutely loved the other two books, I preordered this one. While this book does not exactly fall short of my expectations, I would say I like it a tad less than the other two books. In my opinion, attribute 4 above is what makes The Matchmaker of Perigord (MMP) so compelling in spite of its focus on amusement rather than pace. The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise (TZT) had a slightly less intricate plot but featured modern day characters in an amusingly absurd setting. The combination of real and fantastic felt strikingly appealing.
PPM starts with a fabulous map of the location and a character list just like TZT. As a mystery novel, it rests heavily on attribute 4 just like MMP (although the latter isn't a mystery novel). But I found the characters slightly less compelling and not all that amusing. (Some of the characters in MMP had hilarious idiosyncrasies while the characters in TZT were very real.) The overall writing style was similar to the other two novels. But there were fewer punchlines and less impressive figures of speech. I was also appalled to discover a couple of typos in the text. Also the brief romantic angles that come up later were neither very moving nor particularly relevant to the overall storyline. In TZT, the Tower of London setting was a crucial element. I remember flipping back to revisit the map of the tower several times in course of reading. While PPM also features a well-researched historical setting (both time and place), I felt far less drawn toward Hampton Court palace, and the details of it were not all that crucial for following the novel. All that said, since I like JS's general style, I maintain that I enjoyed the novel overall.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Read 27% 17 Oct 2012
By Daphne reads-&-reads - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I tried to keep reading but couldn't. At this part of the book no mystery has been presented. In fact the story has barely progressed. There are so many characters that I don't care about any of them. I am too bored to continue.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining light read, but I wish the writing were better 14 July 2012
By Angie Boyter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A book whose three-page Cast of Characters contains oddballs like a one-legged dancing master named Horace Pollywog and even includes five characters of the four-footed variety sets up an expectation of a light-hearted romp that is likely to feature a comedy of manners, romance, and not too much gore. That is just what Julia Stuart has delivered in The Pigeon Pie Mystery.
Indian Princess Alexandrina (known as "Mink" because of her fondness for furs) is offered a grace-and-favor apartment in Hampton Court Palace when her father's sudden death under scandalous circumstances leaves her penniless and reduced to only one servant, her former-lady'- maid-turned-maid-of-all work Pooki. Unfortunately, Pooki becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation when the lecherous Major-General Bagshot dies of arsenic poisoning after eating a pigeon pie Pooki has baked for a palace picnic. Mink of course immediately resolves to find the real killer and save her faithful servant. The book is full of unlikely situations verging on the silly, rumours of ghosts from English history, and romance in the form of a young doctor with a marriage-minded housekeeper. It also contains some real historical facts about Hampton Court palace as an added bonus. The mystery is more of an excuse for the fun than it is the central point of the book. Real whodunit fans may be disappointed, but the quirky characters and the interesting setting make for a nice diversion on a hot summer day.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the mechanical aspects of the writing are poor enough that detail-oriented readers will probably find the mistakes too distracting to be able to enjoy the book. Practically every page has a dangling participle, obvious punctuation error, lack of parallelism within a sentence, or similar error of the sort your junior-high English teacher would never have tolerated, e.g., "'Don't encourage her,' muttered Lady Montfort Bebb, reaching out an age-dappled hand for a glass and promptly drained it." I read an Advance Reader copy of the book, but it should have already gone through some review, and the errors were of the sort that should have been noticed and could have been corrected easily. I am genuinely surprised that a major publisher like Doubleday does not have higher standards. If such errors do not trouble you, you may be entertained by The Pigeon Pie Mystery; I was sorely tempted to give up after only a few chapters.
I hope Julia Stuart will write more about Princess Alexandrina, but when she does, I would urge her to find a good copy editor or first reader, so that readers like me can enjoy her storytelling.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing Slice of English Fluff 20 Aug 2013
By A. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.
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