Her Highness Princess Alexandrina is forced by circumstances to make a new life for herself, and deal with new death, after the passing of her father, His Highness the Maharaja of Prindur.
His kingdom stolen by the British, the Maharaja is taken to England where, as a favorite of Queen Victoria, he marries an Englishwoman and spends his life brooding on the loss of the family jewels. His scandalous death in the arms of another young woman makes life difficult for his daughter Alexandrina, known as Mink, who is lucky to be awarded a grace-and-favor apartment at Hampton Court Palace, which is reputed to be haunted by ghosts. Once Mink and her Indian servant Pooki move into the moldering apartment, they meet a diverse and zany group: the obnoxious Maj. Gen. Bagshot and his wife, several military relics, the Keeper of the Maze, the Keeper of the Great Vine and Dr. Henderson, who falls for Mink. When a picnic is proposed, Pooki is asked to make a pigeon pie, a favorite of Bagshot’s. Soon after enjoying the treat, Bagshot dies—apparently from cholera, until an anonymous letter suggesting otherwise provokes a postmortem that turns up arsenic. Mink must unmask the real killer if she is to clear Pooki. As she questions her new acquaintances, Mink discovers many secrets. But are any of them a motive for murder?
Stuart’s third (The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise, 2010, etc.) continues her exploration of famous English historic sites. Quirky characters, a feisty protagonist, a clever mystery and the requisite historical tidbits combine for an amusing read.