This time out, it’s Sir Robert Carey’s unhappily married love, Elizabeth, who solves a murder steeped in political intrigue.
Lady Elizabeth Widdrington is buying two horses that had most likely been stolen in Scotland when her friend Poppy Burn arrives in a terrible state. Far gone in pregnancy, the hysterical Poppy reveals that her husband, James, a minister over the Scottish border in Wendron, was murdered by two strangers who also raped her. Despite the fact that Elizabeth knows her cruel and indifferent husband, Sir Henry, will be furious, she crosses the border herself, accompanied by young Henry and several Widdrington cousins, to see James properly buried. At Poppy’s house she finds the strong-willed dowager Lady Hume of Norland, who’s perhaps a little mad, doing all in her power to keep her beloved grandson, Hughie, out of the hands of Lord Spynie, the homosexual favorite of King James VI of Scotland. Although the border country is rife with stealing, murder, and clan rivalries, Elizabeth can’t help but think that some more intimate intrigue is responsible for the death of a popular minister who was running a school for boys. She soon finds herself in trouble with several factions but continues to hunt for information. In the meantime, Sir Robert Carey, suffering from a toothache and in search of help, runs into the barber surgeon, Mr. Anricks, recently returned from helping Elizabeth in Wendron. Once Anricks, who’s more than he seems, joins with Elizabeth and Carey, a dangerous hunt can be brought to a satisfying conclusion.
One of Chisholm’s best Elizabethan mysteries (An Air of Treason, 2014, etc.), combining all the historical information readers have come to expect with a swiftly moving story featuring a strong woman whose romantic aspirations have yet to be fulfilled.