MISTRESS OF MOURNING
This Tudor-era tale, which tackles a mystery that is unsolved to this day, is rich with details of royal life, London and the guilds prominent at that time. The POV alternates between Varina and the queen, who bond over their grief for children lost. Varina is an unlikely amateur sleuth, but she assists in the investigation with courage, wit and common sense.
Levelheaded Varina is a skilled candle carver and shop owner. The queen, Elizabeth of York, persuades the young widow to carve some wax figures in secret, then asks her to undertake several other duties. When Arthur, the heir to the throne, dies under suspicious circumstances, the queen dispatches Varina to Wales, accompanied by the handsome Nicholas Sutton. Outwardly, the two will be representing the royal family in arranging Arthur’s funeral. Clandestinely, they will be looking for clues: not only regarding Arthur’s death, but also into the disappearance of the queen’s brothers years ago — the two princes in the tower who may have been murdered by their uncle, Richard III. (NAL, Jul., 416 pp., $15.00)