Love closed room or isolated location mysteries? How about a royal castle closed off from the outside world by walls, key-coded gates, and a raging blizzard? Then add in the suspicious death of the king, the fact that only the Royal Family, their head of security and their chef are present, and you have a real problem.
Several things make this mystery harder to solve. The story follows the chef, Jon Alleyne, as he works to singlehandedly prepare the Christmas dinner and winds up trying to figure out what or who caused the king's death. Readers see and hear what Jon does, so we only have the same clues he is working from. The family itself is full of secrets and there is no way to know if any of them have a bearing on the situation. The castle is rumored to be haunted. Could that play a part in the tragedy? And the king had requested that the family be left alone for the holiday, so Jon really is on his own in protecting the family while the security chief patrols the perimeter of the grounds.
This story weaves together family dynamics, the pressure of living out lives in the public eye at all times, the aging king and the need to name a successor, the control of the establishment over the lives of the family, the expectations of the nation, and Jon's status as an outsider. Can someone not originally born in England or a royal himself hope to understand the motivations and desires of this family?
Readers will be as frustrated as Jon at the limits of what he can do with no help from the outside and members of the family unwilling to be honest with him. The fact that he is one of us, the commoners, makes us root for him to succeed.
Due out on October 25th. I read an advance copy provided for review purposes.