Sunday, July 12, 2020

Stealing the Crown by T.P. Fielden

If you are looking for a good murder mystery that is set in 1941 London, with an interweaving theme that might mean protecting the Britsh crown, then I have a book for you. 

Stealing the Crown is not a psychological thriller, but an intellectual murder mystery that involves court officials, an East End burglar, Nazis and the Duke of Gloucester, younger brother of King George VI, and third in line to the throne.

Major Edgar Brampton is found dead in his office at Buckingham Palace.  The prevailing view (and the one pushed by courtiers) is that he committed suicide ... but he didn't.  He and the Queen were said to be close.

Fellow courtier Guy Hartford is given the assignment to find out how Brampton died.  It will be a difficult task for Guy to find the killer due to a few palatial roadblocks.  Why are certain courtiers making things difficult for Guy?

The journey won't be easy as he has to parse through the evidence ... which of course he has to find.

There will be a few red herrings along the way.  Just when you think he has found the killer,  you realize there are more than 100 pages to go.

There are a few bumps in the road as Guy carefully and methodically strips away the layers of clues and evidence with the help of friends including the very pretty burglar Rodie, whose particular skills come in handy, when Guy needed a boost.  

Now you may be wondering what Nazis and the Duke of Gloucester have to do with Brampton's murder.  Let me just remind you that this is 1941, and  Germany holds the advantage in the war.   There is a real threat of an invasion that might have meant a change in the succession.  The Duke of Gloucester was the senior male royal in the family after King George VI.

No more!  I do not want to give away any information that would spoil the ending except to say that I was truly surprised by the denouement.   I thought the murderer was someone else ... but in the end, it all made sense thanks to Guy's sometimes cerebral, sometimes lucky deciphering of the evidence.

Stealing the Crowd is the kind of book you will want to read at the pool (if your pool is open) or commuting to work (if you are back in the office).  If not, make a nice pot of tea, and cozy up on the couch with this excellent mystery.

It may take some time to get to the end, but stay with it ... you won't be disappointed.  I wasn't.

The book is published by Thomas & Mercer (£8.99 & $15.95)

T.P Fielden is the nom de plume for biographer and journalist Christopher Wilson.  

I look forward to Guy Harford's next assignment.

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