Karen Harper incorporates many actual people, as well as real-life situations, into her fictional accounts of Elizabeth as sleuth. In the same year in which the story is set, London faced a plague, which figures marginally in the story.
The fifth book in the series, it's an interesting and imaginative mystery. The characters of Elizabeth and the members of her court are fascinating in their own right. Having them investigate, search for clues and attempt to solve a crime within the confines of the knowledge of their time makes for an interesting concept.

In the summer of 1564, while at Hampton Court Palace, Queen Elizabeth I is entertaining friends and courtiers with a masque performance. In her disguise, Elizabeth is walking near the garden maze when she is attacked. Unsure whether the assailant was after her or someone else, the queen calls a meeting of her "privy plot council" to discuss the implications.

The next evening the body of one of her guests turns up in the maze, and Elizabeth realizes her attacker must have killed her guest.

(Feb., 288 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Lorraine Gelly