Thursday, December 31, 2020

Review: The Windsor Knot by S. J. Bennett

We love to hear tidbits about royalty and what their actual interests are or about their real personalities. I mean, what if royalty is just like us? Of course, they're not really and we know it. In S.J. Bennett's entertaining novel, the first in a planned series, The Windsor Knot, royalty is definitely not just like us, not unless we investigate and solve a murder that happened after a dinner party we hosted.

Windsor Castle with the Queen in residence is a busy place, full of staff, invited guests, and other royals. After one of the Queen's dine and sleeps thrown for Charles' benefit, a guest, a young Russian pianist, is found dead in his room. Initially thought to be the result of auto-erotic asphyxiation gone wrong, it turns out to be a case of murder instead. When the direction the authorities take in investigating is clearly off track, the Queen gets involved with her own behind the scenes investigation. Of course, as the Queen, she cannot be seen to be looking into this so she uses her new assistant personal secretary Rozie as her proxy. Rozie is uniquely positioned to help the Queen and keep everything extremely private, setting up meetings, interviewing people of interest, and researching connections. Her military background doesn't hurt either.

This is a mystery in the tradition of the Golden Age of crime writing and it is quite fun. The Queen is constrained and so must direct others to uncover the nuggets of information she's already uncovered and connected to the web of the whole. There are a multitude of suspects, an unclear motive, delicate international diplomacy issues, and a Director General of MI5 who consistently underestimates the Queen as a little, old grandmotherly sort instead of a long reining, fiercely intelligent woman. Bennett's Queen comes off as thoughtful, determined, kind, and diplomatic. She hews to duty but has a firm sense of justice and will quietly sidestep duty if justice requires. Rozie, a Brit of Nigerian descent, is a delight as she settles into detecting at the direction of her boss and into the always on call role of assistant private secretary. There's also a scene where she is a complete and total badass. Woven around the detecting bits are charming scenes from the Queen's daily life at Windsor as she walks her dogs, deals with her staff, and interacts with Prince Philip. The novel is occasionally a little slow moving but there is some good humor and several red herrings to balance the pace. All in all, a clever, fun, and enjoyable murder mystery.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts