This is a close reading of the evidence against Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, Queen Dowager of France, Catholic claimant to Elizabeth I's Protestant throne, best known through the ages as Bloody Mary. Unlike the poets, playwrights, dramatists and biographers who have fallen under the lovely queen's spell, Mr. Thomson does not martyrize Mary for her automatic Catholicism nor make a villainess of Elizabeth. He sticks to the facts of the conspiracy to kill Henry, Lord Darnley and the extent of Mary's complicity in the stupidly managed murder of her consort. Chief conspirator was James Hepburn, Lord Bothwell, with whom Mary was passionately in love--but surely not for his brain. Darnley was killed when gunpowder was exploded in the closet beneath his bedroom; Bothwell and Co. left a trail sloppy with clues. Mary capped popular suspicion by marrying Bothwell all too quickly after his hastily arranged divorce. The marriage has to be the silliest attempt at deception in history: they staged an abduction, Mary murmured ""Rape,"" and forgave Bothwell's impetuosity. Mr. Thompson is a journalist who writes with crip detachment of a Mary who emerges from the legendary trappings as a lusty sinner guilty of being aware of, and doing nothing to prevent, her husband's death. The notorious Casket Letters get a carefully reasoned textual analysis and it's all more improbable than fiction--fast reading, light scholarship.