After a precious gift meant for Boris Godunov is stolen, bodies rapidly pile up in this dark Elizabethan tale.
Thomas the Falconer is just one of Sir Robert Vicary’s servants called upon to amuse the hawk-loving ambassador of Muscovy after he arrives at Petbury to collect the stunning gold chain and jeweled pendant Elizabeth I has sent to Godunov, czar in all but name, to help secure favored trading rights for England. The ambassador and his exotic entourage fast wear out their welcome, but Sir Robert is forced to keep them entertained when the exquisite chain is stolen from his strongbox. Eager to recover it before anyone hears of the loss, he asks Thomas the Falconer to roam the countryside looking for clues. The discovery of an unidentified body in the garden and the disappearance of Sir Robert’s nervous sister’s favorite suggest that the missing man may be the thief—until his tortured, mutilated corpse is found in a nearby river. The murder of a servant boy convinces Sir Robert to send for Sir Thomas Rivers, the Queen’s Council who delivered the chain, and confess his failures. The Falconer finds a way to keep things under wraps for a bit longer, but he knows full well that his quest for the savage murderer may lead to his death.
Pilkington’s well-researched Elizabethan tales (The Jingler’s Luck, 2006, etc.) always please. This one is no exception.