The Tudor Vendetta
I love historical mysteries. Of course, I love mysteries of any kind, but historical mysteries offer a glimpse (a fictional and not always factual glimpse) into different time periods, and I've always loved history. C. W. Gortner has written a series of three books called The Spymaster Chronicles about the Tudor/Elizabethan period, but this is the first that I've read.
Although this is the third book in the series, Gortner easily and efficiently gives the reader enough back information to feel up to date without it seeming like a review of the previous books. Of course, characters like Elizabeth, Dudley, Cecil, and Walsingham require little or no information as to who they are, but Gortner manages to smoothly slip in plenty of motivation for each of these historic characters.
Brendan Prescott was raised in the Dudley household, an orphan who was often mistreated and who has a long and troubled history with Elizabeth's favorite. Prescott is, however, a queen's man who has been protected by Cecil and trained by Walsingham, Elizabeth's spymaster. Aside from his determined loyalty to Elizabeth, Prescott has a connection to Elizabeth of which only Cecil and Walsingham are aware.
Prescott's service to his queen resulted in a hasty exile during Mary's reign, but upon Mary's death, he is summoned home. Elizabeth has an assignment for him. Even before she can talk to him privately and tell him what she wants him to do, there is an attempt on her life. Even before her coronation, she is besieged with courtiers and sycophants who want something, receiving marriage proposals, and aware that bitter Catholics want her dead and her cousin on the throne. And there are messages that need to be deciphered and secrets that need to be kept.
Elizabeth sends Prescott to find out what happened to Lady Parry, who has been Elizabeth's staunch supporter and companion since Elizabeth was a child. Lady Parry has disappeared, and Prescott must find her. Prescott knows there is more to the situation, but Elizabeth never reveals everything; she has too much experience to trust too much information to anyone.
I found this an exciting Elizabethan mystery: style, plot, and characters make a great mix.
Read in Sept.; blog post scheduled for Oct. 1, 2014.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Elizabethan Mystery. Oct. 21, 2014. Print length: 304 pages.