Cover Image: A Murder at Balmoral

A Murder at Balmoral

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This was a great concept that just wasn't executed very well. The characters seemed to be one dimensional, so I didn't necessary connect with any of them; I felt a little, but didn't really care much what happened to any of them. Also, lots of clues thrown out that they never revisit and then are just seemingly forgotten or a random piece of info thrown out off the cuff that suddenly has major implications at the very end. It was...all just a bit confusing for me.
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This is a royal locked room murder mystery - and if you don’t know much about the royals? That’s fine, because this is an alternate history and they wouldn’t be the royals you knew anyway. 

It’s told from the point of view of the chef. He along with a lone security guard are the only staff on duty for the King’s Christmas gathering with his close family at Balmoral. When the King falls dead just as he’s about to give his yearly speech, the entire family is shocked (or are they?) 

With the security guard unreachable, presumed out of walkie talkie reach making rounds of the grounds during the vicious snowstorm, the chef is (unhappily) put in charge of trying to solve the murder. And even if the family appointed him - determined him to be the most objective and motiveless person in attendance - I’m sure you can imagine how well a staff member questioning and accusing the royal family would go down. 

The story had several mysteries and revelations that kept me interested all the way to the very last page. And I might have had good guesses for who did the murdering, but I never did get the motive before the reveal (and trying to figure out that bit ahead of time was just *killing* me)

Thanks to NetGalley and  Penguin/Putnam for the arc!
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I wonder how many murder mysteries I’ve read where the suspects are all holed up together in a big castle/country house/mountain lodge/hotel, cut off from everyone by a blizzard.  I don’t know the number off the top of my head, but it’s a lot, and it’s an irresistible sub-genre for me, especially when you add an element of alternative history.

It’s just a small element of alternative history.  In this book, it’s imagined that King Edward VII married appropriately rather than abdicated for the love of Wallis Simpson.  It’s never explained how that leads to a present-day 85-year-old King Eric Windsor.  I suppose he must be the eldest son of Edward VII, though it’s hard to see anyone naming an heir apparent Eric.  It doesn’t really matter, though, because all of this is clearly just a device to set a British royal family murder mystery at Balmoral without using any of the actual British royal family.

The story is told from the point of view of Jon Alleyne, the King’s personal chef.  Jon has been with the King for many years, having been hired straight out of his sub-chef job in a London Caribbean restaurant after a fateful encounter with the royal family.  Jon is the son of a Bahamian mother and a white father he never knew.  He has devoted his life to someone else’s family.

King Eric’s up to something this Christmas.  He’s going to make a big announcement at Christmas dinner, and he’s given each member of the a private audience beforehand—one which, by appearances, few enjoyed..

Our characters in this novelistic game of Royal Clue are the King, his estranged and alcoholic wife Marjorie, his black-sheep and also alcoholic brother David, his elder daughter Emmeline, her younger-by-10-minutes sister Maud and her husband Thomas Crockley and two sons Matthew and Martin, the onsite security man Tony Speck, and Jon.  All the other staff have been given the day off, with Jon expected to prepare and serve the sumptuous dinner for eight.  Cue the blizzard, which arrives while Jon spends the morning cooking.  He serves the dinner bang on 12:30, the family eats, the King gets up to give his speech, takes a drink of his traditional single-malt Scotch, and down he goes, stone dead.

With the house completely cut off by the blizzard, and all electronic devices having been taken away from the now-disappeared security man Speck, the family members vote (with some dissent) to put it up to Jon to figure out whodunnit.  This is a bit of a slog, as the amateur detective interviews each member of the family, ferreting out their dirty little secrets to see what motives he might scare up.  In the process, he also reminded unpleasantly over and over of his place in the royal household.

I see by looking at other reviews that opinions are sharply divided about the resolution.  I liked it, because it seemed fitting to me in light of what The Crown and various exposés tell us about the behind-the-scenes operation of the monarchy.
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Enjoyable locked-room mystery where the king is poisoned in an alternate history where Edward VIII never abdicated.  Normally alternate history novels put me off but it was fine in this novel.
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A Murder at Balmoral is a story of the royal family if the crown took a different path. It's Christmas and the King has brought together his wife, children, grandchildren and his brother for dinner at Balmoral. All staff has been dismissed except for his beloved chef, and friend, Jonathan and the head of security. With a blizzard raging outside no one can get out or get in. Or can they? Someone has poisoned the King and it is up to Jonathan to figure out which royal did it before it is too late. I wanted to love this story. It sounded right up my alley. Exactly the kind of mystery I love to sink my teeth into, but for some reason it fell flat with me. Even so it held my attention until the end. I think the problem was I didn't really connect with any of the characters and some things just didn't seem to flow, but seemed more contrived to just move the story along. Others will find this book a good fit for them and be kept on the edge of their seats until the end.
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I started out simply loving this book, an alternate history that posits that Edward VIII did NOT abdicate, so the royal family that exists today are HIS family. Cool idea. The set up is great. The reigning King, Eric, has requested that the family be alone for Christmas at Balmoral except for the Chef (obvs) and one security guard. As the story opens, the chef delivers the King his morning tea and the King is mightily amused at the sight of one of the royal secretaries attempting to leave the castle in a raging snow storm.

The chef, however, has a different problem - without a staff he is left creating the entirety of the royal Christmas feast alone. He manages to do it, but unfortunately the King drops dead just after dinner, before he can deliver the family version of his public Christmas day speech. The security man has disappeared, so it's left to Chef Jon to assume the role of detective.

The investigation is conducted in an utterly charming manner, with Jon interviewing (somewhat uncomfortably) each member of the royal family as he tries to unravel the puzzle. Each member of the family is distinct and interestingly unforgettable - so each interview is different and sheds a bit of light on the unfolding story.

So far, so great. A really fun, traditional mystery with all the right elements and then the ending (in my opinion) spoils the whole thing, taking on an entirely different tone from the rest of the novel. Sure, it's clever, but it's in bad faith. It's as though the author wrote two different books. I enjoyed the first one very much but was dismayed by the ending. A very equivocal recommend, because 3/4 of the book is worth it.
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A Murder at Balmoral by Chris McGeorge 
#fiftyninthbookof2022 #arc 

This book details the fictional royal family of the Windsor line and the murder of its king. Not a spoiler, that’s in the summary. The royal chef is tasked with determining who is responsible, as it’s Christmas and only he and the royal family are at the castle. 

This book was cute. Sort of a cozy seeming mystery. None of the characters are super well defined, and I would have liked for the ending to have a little more explanation. The reveal was a little rushed but it was a decent story until that point. If you want a simple quick read about made up royalty, this is for you. 

I did quite enjoy the inclusion of The Monarch, a TV show that mimics real-life show The Crown and the discussion of its source material and its place in the British culture. I also loved the nod to The Usual Suspects on the cover. 

Thank you to @netgalley and @putnambooks for the advance copy. (Pub date 10/25/22.)

 #royalreads #balmoral #windsor
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What happens when a fictional King Eric of England decides to have a traditional family Christmas with only family (and the chef) at Balmoral during a blizzard? In the best of British traditions, someone kills him and it is up to Chef Jonathan as the outsider in the group (and frankly the only one with any degree of common sense or brains)to try to find out which of the Royal Family killed the king. 

I'm still not sure if I liked this book or not, but the more I think about it, the more I lean towards "not". It had its moments. This was the classic Midsomer Murders aristocratic family where none of them can stand the others, the matriarch is a horrible, completely drunken woman, the uncle is somehow worse, everyone has secrets, everyone has motive, and part of the surprise is that they haven't killed each other before this. Is the King the kindly friend Jonathan has always seen him to be or is he someone completely different? Jonathan is in no way capable as a detective but at least he knows it. He's also the only one we get any level of character development on (such as it was), making it impossible to really get attached to or like any of the characters. Some of the surprises you absolutely see coming, others I was surprised by. The ending was definitely a surprise, but not one that left me happy in any way. It was more of a dark ending than I like, but it might be the kind of twist that appeals to some people. Overall not a book I'm sure I would generally recommend- and definitely one I imagine there are conversations over pushing back the release date on.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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A locked room mystery surrounding the murder of the King of England and the only suspects are all members of the royal family. I really liked the premise of this book and the idea of an alternate lineage of the royal family of Edward VIII if there had been no abdication. This all takes place on Christmas Day with minimal staff on had and the private chef of King Eric Windsor is tasked with finding the killer. This book had a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming wish the end had been a little different in the reveal and what was behind it all but don’t want to give anything away. 3 stars for me on this thank you to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam for the arc of this novel publishing Oct 25, 2022 in exchange for an honest review.
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In this alternate history where Edward VIII didn't abdicate this throne, we have a new host of Windsor royals to follow. In a locked room mystery, the king mysteriously dies just as he is about to name a new heir. Whodunnit?

First 80%? Stellar. Last bit had me reeling. So much for the Crown. Speaking of the Crown, this time the TV show, I like the dodgy nods at it.

Best to go in blind. It's a wild ride.
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"The Crown meets Clue in this delightful locked-room mystery, sure to charm Agatha Christie fans and keep readers guessing to the end.

The king is dead. The killer is in the family. Solving this murder will be a royal pain.

The royal family has gathered at their Scottish retreat, Balmoral Castle, for a traditional Christmas. As a blizzard gathers outside and a delicious dinner is prepared, the family circles up for a holiday toast. King Eric has something momentous to say - in fact, he is about to name his successor. But as he raises a glass of his favorite whiskey, he drops dead.

The king has been poisoned, someone in the family must have done it, and each one of them had opportunity and motive. Eric's beloved head chef, Jonathan, must now play detective. Why would one of the king's own family members want to kill him, and how did they do it? What happens in the castle usually stays in the castle, but this secret might be too big for these battlements. Jon is determined to expose the truth, even if it puts him in a killer’s crosshairs - and shakes the entire monarchy to its core."

Oddly perfect timing I'd say...
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Like a lot of people I enjoy reading about the royal family. Even a fictional royal family, as long as the setting is fairly real or close enough that I can geek out on the descriptions of places and castles. The opening of this novel tells us that it's set in a fictional world where Edward VIII did not abdicate and married someone deemed 'worthy'. Our fictional monarch, King Eric has called his family together, and strictly only his family, to celebrate Christmas 2022 at the very real Balmoral Castle. The rumor is that the King will be announcing his heir and successor to the crown.

Our narrator is the King's personal chef who is also a friend to his King. Jon, having grown up in Barbados, doesn't have family in England and genuinely loves and respects King Eric like family. That's why, when the King falls over dead as he begins his speech to his family, Jon is distraught. Against his protest the Windsors decide that Jon is the most objective person present to investigate what everyone has agreed is the murder, right in front of their eyes, of the late King. Multiple people in attendance are hiding secrets from the others. Some secrets are new and some are decades in the making. 

I really enjoyed this novel. I was able to guess the murderer but not the details around why. There are also all the secrets that the family are keeping, the reveals were like mini twists that were also so fun. I enjoyed that this author made the scenes rich and was descriptive enough that I felt I was watching the book instead of reading it. 

I can totally see why this was compared to Clue, but I can't agree with the AC association. I admit, AC is on my top 3 list of all time favorite authors, if not my number 1 so it's nothing against the author, and it's more about some huge shoes to fill.

I won't say much more because I don't want to spoil everything but I would definitely recommend this to my mystery and royal loving friends!

Look for A Murder at Balmoral, it will be released October 25th, 2022. A huge thanks to the author Chris McGeorge, publisher GP Putnam's Sons, and NetGalley for providing an e-ARC for my review purposes. This did not influence my review in any way.
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Average, 3-stars. I thought the story was really good until the ending, the whole government thing really just felt rushed, I would've enjoyed a better whodunnit if the storyline was kept between the family members. It had the setup to be a great Christmas Murder mystery, but fell a little short.
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A locked room murder mystery of a royal person at Christmastime? I couldn’t sign up for this ARC fast enough! This book was filled with twists and turns, led by a reliable narrator, longtime chef for the Windsor family, who’s just trying to figure out who killed his friend the King. Ultimately, the ending fell flat for me; it covered all angles and answered every question but I was personally left unsatisfied by it. But if you’re looking for a cozy, holiday murder mystery filled with juicy secrets and an unexpected finale, “A Murder at Balmoral” is the story for you!
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I read about half of an advanced reader copy. I suppose this is a cozy mystery and a closed room mystery. It was just silly to me. The supposition, as written in a note at the beginning of the book, is that instead of Edward Windsor abdicating the throne that he marries “appropriately” and the succession differs, and there is a murder as a result. What we get is not King Edward III but a King Eric and his drunk wife, “slimy” brother, and awful progeny. All set in a a scenario that would never happen with he chef acting as detective. Disappointing read from a decent author.
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This was such a perfect and fun setting. For fans of murder mystery, Knives Out, or the game of Clue! The pacing was great and I felt the story flowed well, but I almost wanted more! I liked the characters but didn’t love any of them. It was a twisty and well crafted who done it for sure!
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A Murder at Balmoral was a fun, who-done-it that kept me guessing through most of the story. The main character is a chef for the Royal Family of England (not the current one - the author uses a few liberties to make this story work), who is spending Christmas at one of their most remote residences, Balmoral Castle. Most of the staff has been dismissed to be with their own families, so only the chef and head of security are there to help out. We see the events unfold through Chef Jonathan's eyes, including the apparent poisoning of King Eric. Everyone's a suspect, and Chef Jonathan is given the ominous task of trying to figure out who the killer is when the head of security goes AWOL. This is a cleverly told story, and there are many twists and turns as you come to know the royal family better, with all of their idiosyncrasies and entitled views. Each person had the opportunity and motive, so there are a lot of possibilities for readers to consider. I was both intrigued and disgusted with the character's in this book, and I was glad that it wasn't too simple of a story to keep me engaged. The ending was perfect, too! Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin for the opportunity to read this delightful book!
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This was a fun and quick murder mystery set at Christmas time. It is based on the premise that a different lineage has been atop the British throne.

When the king drops dead from poisoning at Balmoral castle on Christmas day, the only people in the house are The King’s immediate family, the head of security, and the King’s personal chef. This who-dun-it and a quick and fun read that is perfect for the Christmas season.
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This is a classic locked room murder mystery with a few twists.  The location is remote Balmoral Castle during a raging blizzard and the folks within the castle are the Royal Family...but there is a twist even there: this is the Royal Family of an alternate reality where there was no Wallis Simpson and no abdication. The current King, Eric Tudor, gathers his extended family to the castle for an old fashioned family Christmas with only his long time Chef and one security guard staying with the family.  When the King dies quite suddenly from an apparent poisoning, Chef Jon is put in charge of the investigation.  There are secrets revealed, family relationships are tested, and a roller coaster ride of twists that will keep the reader guessing until the very satisfying conclusion.
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What an interesting premise!  A "locked room" who-dun-it but set in an alternate history with a completely different Royal Family.  I really liked Jonathan the chef, who was the unlikely detective here.  Quick & fun read.  My sincere thanks to Net Galley & the publisher for an advanced copy of this book, which I voluntarily read and reviewed. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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