Housemaid Jane Bee’s summer duties run to dusting the props for a week of pageantry at Windsor Castle, the Queen’s favorite haunt. But the Investiture of the new Knights of the Garter ends up combining pomp with a extremely unpleasant circumstance…. Mild-mannered art curator Roger Pettibon is found dead, a ceremonial sword in his back and a Royal Garter around his knee.
The police are quick to arrest moody Court painter Victor Fabiani, at work on a portrait of the regal face that launched a billion postage stamps. But Fabiani’s confession–despite its story of art forgery and blackmail–doesn’t ring true to Jane. Nor to Her Majesty, who dispatches her on a discreet inquiry among the cream of society gathered for the Ascot races. And, as Jane traces the twisty lineage of more than one family, Windsor’s ancient battlements witness a second death–and their second ordeal in five years, by fire and water….
When housemaid Jane Bee accompanies the Royals on their annual Christmas jaunt to Sandringham, she believes she’s in for a bit of a snooze. Aside from her regular duties, there’s nothing much to do in the wilds of Norfolk, until the body of a woman turns up in the village hall—a woman who just happens to be a dead ringer for the Queen, right down to her glittering crown.
While the royal bodyguards tighten their security and the police concentrate their efforts on a notorious animal rights group, Her Majesty bids Jane to do her own discreet digging. But when Jane learns the origin of the dead woman’s tiara, she finds herself suddenly unstitching an upstairs/downstairs tapestry of indiscretions going back fifty years. And then a second brazen murder occurs in the very heart of Sandringham House, and it looks like the coming New Year could be more horribilis than any yet.
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,” suspect foul play. At Her Majesty’s behest, Jane launches a discreet inquiry that takes her from the Servants’ Hall to the highest echelons of the Palace. Yet the more Jane uncovers, the clearer it becomes that this latest royal scandal is a real killer.