Another teacup speculation about the court tempest surrounding one of history's prime puzzles: why was Amy Robsart, young wife of dashing Robert Dudley, found dead at the foot of a staircase just at the time when his wooing of Elizabeth I seemed to be pointing toward marriage? The author accepts the convention that Amy was critically ill, but in order to lay further ground for Amy's suicidal turns, she reconstructs the mismatch from Robert's puppy love mistake to inevitable estrangement. Ambitious Robert, like the Queen a survivor of Tudor intrigue, just outgrew simple Amy. And there was the dazzle of royal ermine. It is unfortunate that, like earlier novelists, the author sees fit to grant Elizabeth one night of ""sweet and utter fulfillment""--though no scholar has been able to crack her Stone-of-Scone virginity. However, a clever envoi to poor Amy's suicide hints at further dark at the top of the stairs. Undemanding and agreeable.