A rollicking spy caper in corsets.
In 1716 London, gimlet-eyed Peggy is 16 and orphaned, living off the charity of her beloved cousin’s family. When her grim, unsentimental uncle arranges a marriage of convenience to a brute, Peggy’s adventure begins. In desperation, she accepts the help of Mr. Tinderflint, a mysterious stranger who claims to have known her mother and offers her an outlandish escape. When she finds herself in the court of King George I, having assumed the identity of a maid of honor (now secretly and suspiciously deceased) in the Princess of Wales’ entourage, her own skepticism about the plausibility of the scheme is part of the fun. Ostensibly there to spy for her employer, she quickly learns that all is not as it seems, and she’s left to suss out the motivations of both her friends and enemies while staying one step ahead of them all. In less adept hands, this would be formulaic folderol, but Zettel arms her narrator with a rapier wit; Peggy is observant and winningly funny as she recounts the intrigues, flirtations and dangers she encounters at court. The tale is studded with rich period descriptions of the foods, fashions and foibles of royal protocols.
This witty romp will delight fans of historical fiction as well as mystery lovers. (Mystery/historical fiction. 12 & up)