Member Reviews

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

"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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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!

Was this review helpful?

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!

3.5/5

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for my copy of A Murder at Balmoral.

Was this review helpful?

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!

Was this review helpful?

*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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

"A Murder at Balmoral" is a soap opera with a mystery and doesn't have satisfactory ending. The prologue was from the point of view of one of the royal family, and they admitted they had poisoned the whisky. Despite that, I was convinced by 20% that I knew how the king was murdered and two likely suspects. Way before the end, I'd narrowed those two suspects down to the correct whodunit (and how). Personally, I thought the whole poison-in-the-whisky explanation made no sense (especially why there were so many jars of poison if only one person was intended as a target). The chef--who is logical, but tired, in poor health, and not trained as a detective--investigated who poisoned the whisky and did eventually track down who poisoned it and then what was really going on.

The problem (as least with the Advanced Reader Copy) was that it felt like the author changed some things and forgot to fix it so everything in this twisty soap opera made sense. Because a whole heck of a lot made little sense. It also didn't seem realistic. To use the least spoiler-creating example, they're in the middle of a white-out blizzard. Jon went outside without a coat to chase a suspected killer. It's very deep snow and he's outside a long time, but he doesn't freeze. He never even changed out of his wet clothes. And if he felt his main job was to protect the royal family from harm, why was he running into the snow (and getting lost) rather than going back to the family, leaving the suspected killer out in the deadly snow?

The ending hinted at the future of the characters, but it left things open-ended--this MIGHT happen, but what did they actually do? For example, one character was desperate to escape being crowned monarch even if it meant suicide, yet we never find out if they accept their crown or do escape. Another character died. We're told that the public was informed that person stepped out of public life to focus on running a business. Yet the employees in that person's business would have noticed that he never showed up. Anyway. This book will probably mostly appeal to those who love to follow the lives the royal family (even if this one is fictional). There was some bad language. There was no sex.

I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Was this review helpful?

A bit slow with a weird ending. I felt like the story dragged. Definitely not the fast paced murder mystery that I anticipated.

Was this review helpful?

A Murder at Balmoral is a dark mystery, set in a gloomy castle during a snowstorm. The modern royals (from an alternate timeline) are gathered for Christmas at the behest of the king, but tensions rise, especially after a suspicious death. The chef, one of the only servants around, and with no ability to reach the outside for help due to a contrived setup that really requires a hefty suspension of disbelief, is tasked with investigating. I had a hard time getting past the initial setup, and the subsequent actions of most characters were often hard to find motivation or justification for. Many of the royals were very stupid, so perhaps that accounted for some of it. However, that aside, it is a unique and novel approach to a locked-room mystery, and opens up good conversation about the role and utility of monarchy in the modern world.

Was this review helpful?

I did not finish this book. I read about 25% and gave up. The first five chapters were a description of the same meal being prepared- seriously? The characters had both sinister and benevolent traits, usually in the same paragraph which was confusing. The story seemed to stagnate and it was exhausting.

Was this review helpful?

Great, Original Fast moving modern royal thriller! The (Fictional) British Royal family is celebrating Christmas at the Balmoral Castle at the King's request. King Eric has request few staff members and as a blizzard begins, the family is truly cut off and stuck with only one another as well as the chef and head of securities.

King Eric has met with all of his family individually and has delivered hard to swallow news. He is about to name his successor. Before he get to do so, before the meal ends, he is dead. The very dysfunctional family is up and arms and suspecting one another. It's up to King Eric's only real friend, his Chef to determine what has actually happened. If you love who done its, locked room mysteries, Clue and of course Knives Out, this book is for you!
#penguingroup #putnam #AMurderatBalmoral #ChrisMcGeorge #Netgalley

Was this review helpful?

As an American I am of course obsessed with the British monarchy - so I was excited to read this book. And a royal murder to boot - heck yes! This book is a timeline that assumes Edward did not abdicate the throne and is the current king. But things get interesting when he king dies and the chef is determined to find out who did it. It started out great but then really never took off for me. The ending lacked substance.

Thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, G.P. Putnam's Sons & NetGalley for allowing me to read and review this digital ARC

Was this review helpful?

Made it 27% of the way before deciding life’s too short. Story was too absurd. Did not finish. Have not read author before.

Was this review helpful?

Murder at Balmoral started out well, but became steadily more improbable. I did recognize a few members of the current and past Royal Family in this book. It was a clever concept that lost its way about half way through and became steadily more ridiculous. There were some shades of Agatha Christie in this mystery, but it lacked the kind of ending Christie usually had. No interesting characters that I cared about.

Was this review helpful?