Death at Buckingham Palace

Death at Buckingham Palace (Her Majesty Investigates #1)Death at Buckingham Palace by C.C. Benison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just love books that feature the current Queen of England as a character. Although the idea of Her Majesty collaborating with a housemaid may seem improbably silly, it is all great fun. Jane is a plucky young Canadian taking a year off from school and staying with her great-aunt Grace in England. Short of cash, and not wanting to return home to Prince Edward Island, she gets a job in Buckingham Palace. The time period is a few years after the Queen’s “annus horribilis” but before the death of Lady Diana. Lots of humor (footmen streaking naked through the palace), upstairs and downstairs intrigue, a film crew doing a documentary on life at the palace, and plenty of red herrings for Jane to sort through. I had fun searching for images of the various palace rooms on the internet to enhance my reading experience. These are books that I would reread, and I will definitely look for the others in the series. [Note: a much older Jane Bee, now married to a British aristocrat, also appears in the author’s Father Christmas mystery series (Twelve Drummers Drumming, etc.)]

Book Description: (from book jacket) Jane Bee came to Europe for adventure, only to end up with the job of a lifetime — housemaid at Buckingham Palace. Now her greatest challenge is removing gum from State Room carpets — until she comes across a nasty accident right outside the Royal Apartments. The Queen Herself has — literally — stumbled across the dead body of Jane’s good friend, footman and aspiring actor Robin Tukes, in what appears to be a suicide. But why would handsome, impetuous Robin, having just toasted his engagement to a gorgeous housemaid, not to mention his impending fatherhood, want to die? Buck House buzzes, but only Jane — and the Royal Personage known belowstairs as “Mother” — suspects foul play. At Her Majesty’s behest, Jane launches a discreet inquiry that takes her from Servants’ Hall to the highest echelons of the Palace. Yet the more Jane uncovers, the more clear it becomes that this latest royal scandal is a real killer.

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Ten Lords A-Leaping

Ten Lords A-Leaping: A Mystery (Father Christmas Mystery #3)Ten Lords A-Leaping: A Mystery by C.C. Benison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this third book in the Father Christmas mystery series, we take a break from the village of Thornford Regis. This one takes place at a manor house where Father Tom is participating in a skydiving event to raise money for his church. Unable to leave after he sprains his ankle, he becomes involved with the local aristocracy – a very disfunctional and unlikeable family. The tangle of family relationships seems much more straightforward after getting to know so many local villagers in the first two books. I did not feel the need to keep notes on the various characters this time around. We do see the return of several characters from book one – the brother of his vanished verger (Sebastian John), Lord Kirkbride (Jamie) and his wife, Jane (nee Bee). I have just found out that Jane Bee was the subject of three prior books by C.C. Benison (Death at Buckingham Palace) so I am off to find those…

Father Tom is accompanied by his daughter, Miranda, and his housekeeper, Madrun, who continues to write LOL funny letters to her mother throughout the story. I continue to find this series well-plotted, if a tad on the long side, humorous, thought-provoking, and satisfying. A bit expensive as ebooks, but I will definitely be rereading them, probably at Christmas time even though they really don’t have anything to do with Christmas.

Book Description: Although Father Tom Christmas serves his little church in enchanting Thornford Regis with a glad and faithful heart, he never expects to find himself skydiving to raise money for it. Nor, safely back on the ground, to see two of the other divers leap from the plane, then tangle in a midair punch-up and begin falling to the earth. To say that there is tension between the men in question—Oliver, the 7th Marquess of Morborne, and his brother-in-law Hector, the 10th Earl of Fairhaven—would be an understatement. But the trouble among this ancient landed family really began a generation ago, when a marquess divorced his first spouse to marry his brother’s wife, fathering in his two marriages a viper’s nest of arrogant young aristocrats. Now they have all turned up for the show to witness this shocking event in the sky. Thankfully the men land safely, but death will not be slighted. Much to Father Tom’s dismay, he later discovers Lord Morborne lying deceased on castle grounds. Rumors of bigamy, art forgeries, and upstairs/downstairs intrigue fly. So do whispers of unvicarly behavior between Tom and Oliver’s beautiful half-sister, Lady Lucinda. In fact, the vicar may be headed for a very hard landing of his own.