Cover Image: A Murder at Balmoral

A Murder at Balmoral

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Member Reviews

Set at Balmoral, with the royal family trapped inside by a major snowstorm, McGeorge’s mystery has moments of great entertainment, but is flawed through characters that are flat.  The chef “hero” is portrayed as weak, the royal family members are classically flawed and predictable, the villains are no surprise.  It’s an entertaining read, just don’t expect too much of it..
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Love closed room or isolated location mysteries? How about a royal castle closed off from the outside world by walls, key-coded gates, and a raging blizzard? Then add in the suspicious death of the king, the fact that only the Royal Family, their head of security and their chef are present, and you have a real problem. 

Several things make this mystery harder to solve. The story follows the chef, Jon Alleyne, as he works to singlehandedly prepare the Christmas dinner and winds up trying to figure out what or who caused the king's death. Readers see and hear what Jon does, so we only have the same clues he is working from. The family itself is full of secrets and there is no way to know if any of them have a bearing on the situation. The castle is rumored to be haunted. Could that play a part in the tragedy? And the king had requested that the family be left alone for the holiday, so Jon really is on his own in protecting the family while the security chief patrols the perimeter of the grounds.

This story weaves together family dynamics, the pressure of living out lives in the public eye at all times, the aging king and the need to name a successor, the control of the establishment over the lives of the family, the expectations of the nation, and Jon's status as an outsider. Can someone not originally born in England or a royal himself hope to understand the motivations and desires of this family?

Readers will be as frustrated as Jon at the limits of what he can do with no help from the outside and members of the family unwilling to be honest with him. The fact that he is one of us, the commoners, makes us root for him to succeed.
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This is an overly dramatic murder mystery set at Balmoral Castle in (of course) a blizzard on Christmas Day.  The only British non-royal present is the chef, who unfolds the whodunnit (along with a fabulous dinner).  The members of the Royal Family have over-the-top personalities, opinions of each other and definite ideas about expected public personas.  The conversations, thoughts as well as plot can be construed as silly (to the point humorous) or overly drawn out.  Everyone has a secret; some don't even know they do.  Will the blizzard ever end?
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4 stars

A Murder at Balmoral, an homage to all things Clue, The Crown, and Christie, is a cozy mystery that feels tailor made to the upcoming holiday season. Imagining a world where Edward VIII didn't abdicate the throne, we are introduced to a royal family not dissimilar to its real-world equivalent and when the king is poisoned on Christmas day, any one of them could be a suspect.

I really enjoyed McGeorge's choice to utilize the palace chef Jonathan as our main perspective as his outsider status both as a commoner and as an immigrant made for both a great viewpoint to the mystery and some interesting social commentary. I can clearly see the Poirot influence as we spend a large portion of the book doing individual interviews, but I personally would have loved some more clues dropped along the way to really make the multiple reveals all the more hard-hitting. That being said, I immensely enjoyed A Murder at Balmoral and I think that it will bring many readers a good deal of joy as we transition into the colder months.

Thank you to NetGalley and G.P. Putnam's Sons for an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review!
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Thank you G.P. Putnam's Sons for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

What a fun idea for a book! Going into this I thought it would be based on the real royal Windsor family so I was a bit surprised the characters were actually fictional. I did feel like it was a bit hard to keep track of all the different characters but the list in the front of the book definitely helped.

The plot line is one I felt could be from an Agatha Christie book and I definitely got the Clue vibes talked about in the description. I was kept guessing until the very end which is always nice in mystery books. This is definitely entertaining and enjoyable to read!
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I loved the family drama, the twists and turns, the royal family, the setting, the crime. It was all fabulous and really felt like an Agatha Christie novel. I tried to figure out who the killer was and I had it, at one point, but the way they were discovered was not at all what I expected. I probably had 4 different scenarios at one point. 
The ending wasn't as satisfying as I wanted it to be. I even had to go back and reread a bit to make sure I didn't miss anything. 
Still a great, quick mystery.
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The description "The Crown meets Clue" had my attention immediately. A locked door mystery at Balmoral at Christmas?!?! Yes, please.

I thought the premise of the book was original, and I liked that the royal family is a fictional one with some minor similarities to the actual royal family. Considering that this book will probably appeal most to cozy mystery fans, or classic mystery readers who are looking for something different, I thought the pacing was great.

I will definitely be suggesting it to readers who enjoy mysteries, especially of the locked door variety.
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If this were 1977, I would have thought "A Murder at Balmoral" was a diabolically vicious satire of the royal family, poking sticks at "why do we still have them, anyway?" and wrapped in an "Agatha Christie had a long weekend" mystery. I would have loved the first 90% of the story. 

Even in 2022 there are highlights within the story, but there are too many dead spots in the overall story that it doesn't hit as hard as it could have. 

The story is an alternate history--Edward VIII doesn't abdicate the throne, Wallis Simpson isn't anywhere to be found, and the King ends up marrying an appropriate (aka, Protestant and at least a serene highness) young lady and has enough children for "an heir and a spare".  The current king is King Eric, with Prince David, Duke of York (Edward VII was known as Prince David--here's the setup) as the spare, and a Queen Consort who, for reasons that don't make sense, has the title of Princess Royal, which is meant for the eldest daughter of the reigning monarch, and which doesn't upset the eldest daughter at all.

Making too many changes in the alternate history when the plot point could be met another way in a plot device is a problem with the book. 

Finally, a chef takes on the mystery portion of the story and gets the denouement for his trouble. Mostly you feel sorry for the chef who's been saddled with creating holiday meals for the royal family as a solo act.

The big problem--the last 10% of the book, where the plot takes a deus ex machina turn and lands with a sickening thud. Until the denouement, the rest of the book is a bit of a gut grind, where "I didn't like any of these people, but they didn't deserve this.". There's comeuppance, and when the story goes beyond comeuppance, it becomes a nasty experience.

When the denouement arrives, it might sort everything out. You hope so, anyway.

Two and one-half stars: recommended with reservations.
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What fun! A faux family Windsor, a private Christmas dinner prepared by the king's chef, a missing head of security, and a raging blizzard at Balmoral set the scene for this locked room murder mystery. The sudden death of the king makes everyone a suspect from the king's wife and twin daughters to his son-in-law and two grandsons (one of whom is the heir apparent to the throne!). At the behest of the royals,  Chef Jon ( who has a secret of his own!) sets out to solve the mystery and avenge the king's death. A delicious puzzle with a touch of sinister!
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Very well-done locked room mystery in the best of the classic, traditional mystery. Anglofiles will love the English -- and royal -- setting. King Eric's favorite chef Jon is  a very appealing character who is thrown into the role of detective -- and is determined to do well in this role too. This novel has high appeal for readers of classic, traditional mysteries to curl up with on chilly days.
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"A Murder at Balmoral" by Chris McGeorge reads like a classic murder mystery novel, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie. It's a well written and well plotted, with a unique royal twist and an ending you won't see coming.
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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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One of my favorite books I’ve read this year, A Murder at Balmoral is a delicious romp through the corridors of Balmoral Castle, home away from home for the British royalty. It’s Christmas Day, all servants dismissed, a blizzard roars outdoors. What could go wrong? The plot zips along at lightning speed with a delightful, if inept, cast of characters. Actually let’s not call them inept. Let’s say…deeply challenged. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Christie-like mysteries. Or the British royals. Or a good murder.
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The Royal family is at Balmoral for Christmas. All staff members, with the exception of two, are asked to leave for the holiday. The chef, Jon Alleyne and the head of security, Speck, remain at the castle. King Eric dies suddenly, and it is up to Jon to figure out what happened. A locked room mystery of the first order. A recent law allows the king to help in the decision of who shall succeed the ruler; he dies before he is able to make this announcement. Whodunnit? We have the King's whiny brother David, the king's wife Princess Marjorie who drinks incessantly, twin daughters, Princesses Emeline and Maud, both of whom might have an agenda, a weak son-in-law and two grandsons who dearly loved their grandfather. As Chef Jon establishes who might have access to the king, the plot, as they say, thickens, as does the blizzard raging outside. And, by the way, what has become of Speck, who was entrusted to keep the family safe.

Everyone has secrets which are revealed in alternating chapters and no one is telling everything. Some members of the royal family will prove to be more likable than others.
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Thank you to G.P. Putnam's Sons and NetGalley for this free ARC.

What a fun, fast paced read! If you are into the royal family, you will love all the easter-eggs found throughout this book. I stayed up all night reading it because I just had to know who killed the beloved King Eric and why. There were some twist and turns at the end that left me feeling overall satisfied. Agatha Christie would have been proud of this locked room mystery.
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I really enjoyed this royal Christmas whodunnit set at the infamous Balmoral castle. I was surprised by all the twists and turns. And the story kept me guessing. The pace of the novel was good and I enjoyed the reflective commentary on the roles of the monarchy in society. This is a great winter read that I’m sure will be on many gifting lists this holiday season!
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This author was new to me and the synopsis sounded interesting to me! "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."

A who done it with the setting of a modernized British family. It was a little slow paced at the beginning for me, but I did enjoy the characters and how it unraveled throughout the story. Once it picked up, I couldn't wait to see how it unfolded! 


Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for my copy of A Murder at Balmoral.
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What a great mystery! I loved it, all the way through. I loved the clues, but could not push ahead with them, so the story begged to continue unfolding. Well done, Chris McGeorge!
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*ARC Review*

I sadly found this story to be filled with too many characters and lacking drama. I was getting some confused with others and could not focus on the very slow story. I really wish I liked this book more as the description sounded very interesting... but it just did not catch my attention.
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A locked room murder mystery involving the royal family, taking place in a Scottish castle in the middle of a blizzard... ARC from Netgalley--count me in! Unfortunately this one was not a winner for me. I found it slow and tedious and difficult to finish. The plot twists revealed at the very end were vaguely interesting, but not enough to make me like this book.
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