21 Sept 2023
What if the Queen solved crimes?
"For the record, I don’t think Elizabeth II secretly solved crimes in her spare time, but if she did, I think she would have done it like this, with shrewd intelligence, diplomacy, the wisdom born of experience… and a kick-ass ex-military sidekick, to go where a ninety year-old monarch couldn’t be seen to go." S J BENNETT
SJ Bennett is the bestselling author of the international Her Majesty the Queen Investigates series, featuring Queen Elizabeth II as a secret solver of mysteries. The first three books take place in the spring, summer and winter of 2016. They’re set at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Sandringham, and fit a murder investigation around the Queen’s real activities in each place.
The Windsor Knot begins on a perfect spring morning at Windsor Castle. The morning after a ‘dine and sleep’ at the castle, eighty-nine-year-old Queen Elizabeth is shocked to discover that one of her guests has been found murdered in his room, with a dressing-gown cord around his neck. When the police and MI5 begin to suspect her loyal servants, Her Majesty is certain they are looking in the wrong place. For the Queen has been living an extraordinary double life ever since her teenage years. Away from the public eye, she has a brilliant, secret knack for solving crimes. With her household's happiness on the line, can she and her trusted assistant private secretary, Rozie, catch the killer, without getting caught themselves?
Sophia's inspiration for the series struck as she was driving through the heart of England: "I had the idea for Queen Elizabeth II as a crime-solver, and as soon as it came to me, it wouldn’t let go." Each book centres around the Queen investigating a crime at one of the royal residences – an oddly believable scenario – while being set against the backdrop of real life events in politics and the lives of the royals. She says: "I love a world in which a wise and experienced older woman quietly, subtly, keeps things on track by working for good behind the scenes. I love the loyalty and devotion of the people who work for her in these books, and hers to them. I love the sense of tradition mixed with curiosity about the present and a real commitment to making the future the best that it can be... there are so many stories about the Queen (my Queen) that I want to write."
“A delightful and respectful tribute to Windsor’s canniest — and most discreet — amateur sleuth” WOMAN&HOME MAGAZINE
The fourth book in the series, due for release in February 2024, takes us back to 1957 when a young Queen Elizabeth is drawn into an investigation, and the fifth instalment is already underway. As Sophia says, "there are seventy years of the Queen’s reign to explore, and twenty-five years before that, so I hope there will be quite a few more books to go".
Sophia is not only an internationally bestselling author, she is also a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and an established writing teacher and mentor. She runs a podcast for unpublished writers called Prepublished, where she talks to established writers from Ruth Ware to Sophie Hannah about what it takes to get that first deal.
“Like an episode of The Crown - but with a spicy dish of murder on the side” DAILY MAIL
A festival veteran, Sophia has appeared at Hay, Cheltenham, Oxford, Edinburgh and Bloody Scotland. A recent popular panel was ‘Murder Most Joyful’ at Harrogate 2023, where she chaired Elly Griffiths, Mark Billingham, Ian Moore and Antti Tuomainen in a discussion of humour in crime novels. We are delighted and proud that she is now adding Maidstone LitFest to her list of festivals and literary events.
Sophia once interviewed for the role of Assistant Private Secretary to the Queen and still regularly passes Buckingham Palace on her way into writing sessions at the London Library. She lives in London, where she can be found in the writing shed at the bottom of her garden, or in the city’s museums, theatres and galleries, and occasionally the garden of the Chelsea Arts Club.
S J Bennett will be in conversation with Adrian Wills on Tuesday 3rd October from 7-8pm at the beautiful Archbishop's Palace.