In her ninth appearance as the most improbable of Elizabethan detectives, Queen Elizabeth I must unravel a murder plot before she becomes its final victim.
Summer 1569. The large retinue accompanying the Royal Progress of England’s Queen includes her Catholic cousin Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who’s secretly considering marriage to Elizabeth’s rival, Mary Queen of Scots. At her first stop, Elizabeth and Francis Drake are narrowly missed by an arrow that kills her falconer. The attacks continue as they travel through country populated by clandestine supporters of Mary. Is the legendary bowman known as the Hooded Hawke out to kill Elizabeth, or is Francis Drake the target? Elizabeth dons Drake’s spare armor as she tries to puzzle out who’s really in danger. A trip aboard Drake’s ship ends with an attack of fire arrows; once again Elizabeth and Drake barely escape. Although the Queen suspects Howard’s treachery, it’s a pillow stitched by Mary and hidden in Norfolk’s digs that holds the key to the plot. After Elizabeth’s look-alike herb mistress Meg Milligrew recovers the pillow, its coded message leads Elizabeth and Drake to an isolated church where a dangerous cat-and-mouse chase unmasks the traitor and sets in motion the events that lead to Mary’s execution.
Unlike some of Elizabeth’s detail-rich cases (The Fatal Fashione, 2006, etc.), this one deftly integrates its appealing historical detail with a neatly turned mystery.