Elizabethan sleuth Susanna, Lady Appleton (Face Down Across the Western Sea, 2002, etc.), solves a double murder involving blackmail and sexual indiscretion.
March, 1573. Mischievous maid Sarah Jaffrey takes her unworldly sister-in-law Jennet to Greenwich to get a glimpse of the Queen. Jennet meets Her Majesty, but not under the circumstances she imagined. Instead, she’s caught in the middle of a serious misunderstanding involving Elizabeth’s missing ring. It takes the mention of Jennet’s mistress Susanna, Lady Appleton, to extricate her from culpability. Susanna, meanwhile, has problems of her own as she tries to maintain discretion in her relationship with Whitethorn Manor’s Nick Baldwin and please Nick’s disapproving (and secretly dying) mother Winnifred, who wants a more exalted daughter-in-law. Susanna can’t resist sleuthing when Miles Carter, manservant to the overbearing Brian Tymberley, yeoman of her majesty’s chamber, is found dead below that banqueting house. The circle of suspects widens when Nick’s servant Simon Brackney meets a similar fate. Suspicion centers on Susanna’s flirtatious maid Grace, but she reveals some surprising secrets that send Susanna snooping in new directions.
Spirited and studded with wry humor. The prefatory Cast of Characters helps immensely in sorting out the large number of series regulars, and the extensive glossary stands alone as a reading pleasure.