This cheeky, charming tale featuring Queen Elizabeth, a Beatles memorabilia collector, a surly teenager and the spirit of John Lennon is so captivating that it’s actually a disappointment to read the last sentence and realize the story has ended.
The book begins with a late-night heist in Buckingham Palace. The queen is a Beatles fan, and keeps three letters from Lennon in a lockbox in her bedroom. When the thief, Alistair Covey, realizes that not only were the letters written in the last months of Lennon’s life, but they also discuss reuniting the Beatles in a concert for peace hosted by the queen – the contents making them all the more valuable – he demands a large ransom.
The palace asks Oliver Masingale, Britain’s foremost Beatles memorabilia collector, for help. Pudgy, middle-aged and mourning the death of his wife, Oliver is an unlikely detective. After palace officials refuse to pay the ransom and Oliver’s services are dropped, the queen secretly enlists Oliver’s help in a mission to recover the letters.
In an elaborate yet believable scenario, the queen ditches her security detail, dons a headscarf and a rumpled raincoat and goes undercover with Oliver. Scenes in which the royal octogenarian navigates the London Underground and fights off Covey with the help of her loyal corgi are both funny and touching. The queen and Oliver are grudgingly aided by Oliver’s teenage daughter Janie, who is definitely not amused by anything her father does, and they are also helped by a hologram of Lennon that may or may not be the musician himself, back from the dead.
With its imaginative plotting, clever prose and deft characterizations, Yours Truly, the Queen is a resplendent read. Here’s hoping that Oliver, Janie, ghostly John and Her Majesty are planning a second magical mystery tour very soon.