I have been noticing my reviews are quoted in books coming out and I have forgotten to mention it. This book has two of my reviews referenced in the first pages! Yay :-)
Read the full reviews here: #1 Murder at Hatfield House (click here), and #2 Murder at Westminster Abbey (click here), plus a guest post by the author (click here). Let's see what this addition to the series has in store for us!
Copyright: February 2015 (Signet) 304 pgs
Series: 3rd in Elizabethan Mystery series
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Mystery
Main Characters: Kate Haywood, 18 year old musician in the employ of newly crowned Queen Elizabeth I
Setting: 1559, Nonsuch Palace in Surrey, England
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Queen Elizabeth has been Queen for six months, most of which she has been traveling England. For the next few weeks the Queen and her large entourage of servants and advisers will stay at Nonsuch Palace, the building that her father, Henry VIII, built for one of his ill-fated wives. It is also the place where, during Henry VIII's time, Dr. Macey was a trusted court astrologer who mysteriously disappeared and the rumors persist that he was killed for doing the Queen's horoscope. The apprentice of Dr. Macey, Dr. John Dee, is now Elizabeth's favorite astrologer and everyone at court is having there birth charts done. But Kate and Robert Dudley don't trust Dr. Dee's apprentice as he has been lurking the halls. During a run of the garden maze for afternoon entertainment, a skeleton is discovered and is revealed as the long lost Dr. Macey. Shortly, there is another death and once again the Queen turns to Kate to quietly ask around. Kate feels tremendous loyalty to Elizabeth and once again makes shrewd observations of the motivations behind the courtly manners. She finds herself in danger yet again as she unravels who is the murderer among them.
Subplots are Kate's mother's lineage presenting the possibility she is distantly royal and what that means in her current situation. Plus, Rob Cartman is serious about pursuing Kate as they are well suited and he seems smitten with her. Meanwhile, Anthony is hoping to start his own law firm soon and hopes to provide a home for Kate. But what does Kate want?
Kate Haywood is still compassionate, but she has grown a bit more worldly wise and less trusting by this book. She finds herself suspecting everybody of keeping secrets and lying among the Court. Rob Cartman brings his traveling entertainment troupe in hopes of getting a permanent sponsor. Rob is a scoundrel with a good heart. Hard working Anthony Elias winds up visiting on business for a legal client and takes a few opportunities to assist Kate. Robert Dudley is a historical figure used in the story who really was Elizabeth's favored who oversaw her security, and was her regular dance partner. Astrologer Dr. John Dee is another historical figure in the story. It is a challenge to use historical figures in a story, but these are handled very well along with Queen Elizabeth.
Nonsuch Palace (because there was none other like it) was a Tudor royal palace, built by Henry VIII in Surrey, England; it stood from 1538 to 1682–3. The palace is used in the story to provide delicious Gothic touches giving it a cursed or haunted feel since Henry leveled the existing town to make way for his palace and once it was completed he was married to his fifth wife Catherine Howard, who he beheaded before two full years together. Her fate hangs over the story along with the disappearance/death of Dr. Macey.
The plot has a good murder mystery with the never-ending danger of a scheme to eliminate Elizabeth, which was a lurking real threat at the time. I felt the pacing was even throughout and kept moving. The climax had some good chases and confrontations with an impressive villain resolution that burns in the mind. The ending clears the path for the next adventure and I already am anticipating the next book.
Miss Carmack has delivered yet another engrossing murder mystery with misdirecting plot twists and sensitive character portrayals that brings history alive and delivers the dangers of royal court life. Bravo.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list, if you haven't already.
Here is a model recreation of the Nonsuch Palace, considered small for a royal residence.
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