A second adventure for Elizabethan herbalist Susanna, wife of Sir Robert Appleton, an emissary to Queen Elizabeth (Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie, 1989). While Sir Robert is on the Queen’s business in Scotland (with a little dalliance on the side), Susanna, accompanied by young Catherine Denholm, her husband’s unacknowledged half-sister, is sent to Madderly Castle in Gloucester. Ostensibly there to help Lady Eleanor Madderly with her herbal manuscript, Susanna learns of the recent killing of Lord Glenely—an obnoxious Scots visitor found in the library where Magdalen Harleigh oversees Lord Madderly’s collection while her burly husband, Otto, serves as the Castle’s Horse Master. Others in the household are schoolmaster John Wheelwright, tutor of the Lord’s young sons; handsome Gilbert Russell, gentleman usher; and Lord Madderly’s sister Beatrice, who looks on Susanna’s presence with sour-faced disapproval. Before long Eleanor becomes a second murder victim and Russell—increasingly attractive to Catherine—is revealed as Lord Glenely’s heir. A visit from her husband and yet another killing slowly uncover the driving force behind the mayhem. Far-fetched incidents, fussily drawn characters, and stilted conversations keep the pace soporific and the suspense meager here; but herbal enthusiasts and fans of historical romances may find some mild entertainment.