cover image A Murder at Balmoral

A Murder at Balmoral

Chris McGeorge. Putnam, $17 trade paper (384) ISBN 978-0-593-54413-6

In this locked room mystery with echoes of Agatha Christie, British author McGeorge (Now You See Me) delivers a droll if disappointing look at a fictional royal family, whose members have gathered to celebrate a traditional Christmas at Balmoral Castle located in the remote Scottish Highlands. All the royals, a mixed bag of egos, have been made to hand over their mobile devices, and are soon cut off from the outside world by a huge blizzard. King Eric Windsor has sent all servants and staff home, demanding that the only people to be present are his family; his smarmy security “juggernaut,” Tony Speck; and his loyal personal chef, Jonathan Alleyne. The 85-year-old king plans to make an important announcement that will affect the monarchy. But as he begins to describe his proposal during a toast, he drops dead from drinking poisoned whiskey. Mouth-watering scenes of the chef cooking make up only in part for an uninspired plot, a ho-hum resolution, and characters that are stock types, aside from Jonathan. McGeorge has done better. Agent: Hannah Sheppard, DHH Literary (U.K.). (Oct.)