In which our delightful heroine, equal parts Eliza Bennett and Veronica Mars, finds herself yet again incommoded by intrigue, villains and reversals of fortune in this sequel to Palace of Spies (2013).
“One of the great frustrations of a maid of honor’s life is that her time is not her own,” Peggy Fitzroy tells readers ruefully. “That frustration is multiplied when the maid is supposed to be engaged in conspiracy and robbery.” And indeed, Peggy’s attempts to spy for the crown are continually stymied by the semiotics of life in the Princess of Wales’ court. The tricky part of any sequel is to acquaint new readers with the shenanigans that transpired previously without trying the patience of dedicated fans. Zettel dispatches the tension easily, and by the third page, readers are hurtling sympathetically along with Peggy as her espionage leads her yet again headlong into mortal peril. Much of the humor comes from Peggy’s gaffes and narrow escapes. But when the quick-witted girl sets out to intentionally make a spectacle of herself in order to entrap and defeat an adversary, the results are gratifyingly suspenseful. Along the way, the tale is woven with historical detail to amuse and educate—as with the introduction of tea into court society—but always in service of the plot and never so pedantic as to bog down the swift-paced action.
More thoroughly satisfying mischief and mayhem are afoot. (Historical mystery. 12 & up)