Review of 'Murder Most Royal' - SJ Bennett
I read the first in this series a few months ago when I was trying to reduce my TBR list on my kindle and thought it was a really clever idea that was well executed. It features a fictional version of the Queen as a detective, but there is never a hint of disrespect for the Royals and it was highly entertaining. This latest instalment is even better.
I think what makes this book work especially well is the fact that after the Queen's death we heard lots of little stories of encounters she'd had with the public and previously private anecdotes from those who worked with her. All of those stories, for me, corroborated the way Her Majesty is portrayed in this book. The characterisation is excellent and I could genuinely imagine her doing all the things that happen. The supporting cast is an excellent mix of stuffy courtiers and protocol and the less tightly bound members of the court who allow the Queen to act with a little more freedom. It's the perfect mix for comedic interludes, whilst enabling the Queen to uncover all the necessary clues without becoming an unrealistic portrayal.
The plot for this novel centres more on people the Queen actually knows, than it did in the first one I read and thus, her investigating is of a more personal nature this time. Both work equally well but this one allows for more of her personal feelings to come to the fore. She is much more directly involved in this case and there seems to be much more at stake - not of course, that Her Majesty allows this to cloud her judgment!
It's very much the 'cosy crime' variety of book, which is one of my favourite genres. However, there is also a lot that reminds me of Alan Bennett's 'The Unexpected Reader', particularly in the characterisation of the Queen herself. I thoroughly enjoyed this - although I am cross that I missed the release of Book 2 - and will be eagerly looking out for the next in the series, as well as hunting down 'A Three Dog Problem' to read.