Title: A Three Dog Problem
Author: S.J. Bennett
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 5th January 2022
Synopsis: The second book in the delightfully clever mystery series following Queen Elizabeth II as she secretly solves crimes alongside her royal duties.
In the wake of a referendum which has divided the nation, the last thing the Queen needs is any more problems to worry about. But when an oil painting of the Royal Yacht Britannia – first given to the Queen in the 1960s – shows up unexpectedly in a Royal Navy exhibition, she begins to realise that something is up.
When a body is found in the Palace swimming pool, she finds herself once again in the middle of an investigation which has more twists and turns than she could ever have suspected. With her trusted secretary Rozie by her side, the Queen is determined to solve the case. But will she be able to do it before the murderer strikes again?
Agatha Christie meets The Crown in A THREE DOG PROBLEM, the much-anticipated second book in the ‘Her Majesty The Queen Investigates’ mystery series by SJ Bennett – for fans of The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, Agatha Christie and M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin.
S.J. Bennett has started writing a series about Queen Elizabeth II – and what she would be like if she was into solving crimes that happened in and around the royal residences. She’s imagined a world behind the palace walls, away from the official façade we often see in a myriad of ways. She tells the stories partly through the perspective of the queen, and partly through the perspective of her protagonist, the Queen’s Assistant Private Secretary, Rozie Oshodi looking into another crime – that eventually intersect, though not always as related cases, but more through the characters talking to each other about the cases.
In A Three Dog Problem, first, a painting of the Queen’s yacht, the Royal Britannia goes missing. And, soon after, a staff member is found murdered by the pool. The Queen – S.J.’s Queen Elizabeth, and Rozie start investigating each case separately, yet what I loved was the way they still worked together – as there was a sense that there was something connecting the two seemingly different cases. As the cases are investigated, little threads are dropped, and trails followed as the two try to solve the mysteries they face in Buckingham Palace.
This was an enjoyable cozy crime with a difference – real people are characters, and at first, I was a little unsure about this but it felt like S.J. Bennett treated them with respect, which made the story work well, as she balanced what we know with what fictionalised versions of the Royal Family, much like The Crown, have had to imagine might have happened. It worked well, and helped to create a delightful story that is engaging and keeps the reader intrigued.
There is something intriguing about novels like this – it makes you wonder if the real people are really like that, or if they have those interests, but as a fictional representation, it’s creative and respectful, as I said before, and gives us an insight into what might be happening or what Queen Elizabeth II might be doing in her own time, and how she interacts with her staff. I am interested in the research that the author does to write this series, and how she manages to balance reality and fiction so it feels like it might be possible but at the same time, it is clear that it comes from her imagination.
Even if this seems far-fetched to some readers, I think what we need to remember about fiction is that it’s usually just there to entertain us. That whilst some things might be unlikely, we do need to suspend our belief at times and just enjoy the story and go along for the ride like I did. Part of me can imagine the Queen doing this, knowing what she did in the war and what she’d done over the years.
An enjoyable novel!