Title: Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe by Kathy Lynn Emerson
Publisher: Severn House
Genre: cozy, mystery, historical mystery, Elizabethan spy mystery, English mystery
3.5 Stars ****
Author: aka Kate Emerson, Kaitlyn Dunnett, Kaitlyn Groton, author of over 50 novels, generally reflecting her long interest (45 years) in British history. She has a BA from Bates College and currently lives in Maine. Emerson won an Agatha Award for Mystery Nonfiction (2008) for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries. She is a member of Historical Novel Society, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. Emerson’s Liss MacCrimmon Scottish American Heritage Mystery series is very popular (Kaitlyn Dunnett)- I was given multiple copies one year when she first published Kilt Dead (2007). I have read several of her Face Down in…. Series. These are also Elizabethan tales with Lady Susanna Appleton, gentlewomen, herbalist and sleuth. In fact, the current series heroine is the illegitimate daughter of Sir Robert Appleton, and several characters will reappear.
Interestingly, this is a work of fiction based on real events. It is the first book in a new series that will feature Mistress Rosamund Jaffrey, who eloped at 16 to escape the family; an inheritance has made her independent but she is estranged from her husband of two years. Rob is a merchant’s son, (and she thinks him beneath her??), but now in Russia. It is 1582, London is embroiled in political machinations and an interesting character of itself in this book, vividly described. Rosamund is clever, at languages and codes, and is recruited by Nicholas Baldwin (Lady Appleton’s lover) ((working for Sir Francis Walsingham)) to spy on Lady Mary Hastings, the Queen’s cousin. Lady Mary is expected to be the bride of Tsar Ivan (the Terrible) of Russia, a prospect which terrifies her, but which also threatens her life. Acting as a lady’s maid, Rosamund encounters intrigue, danger, murder and poisons. She has a devoted Polish maid Melka who saves Rosamund more than once.
Rosamund seemed self centered and self important, at a time that women were neither. The ability to throw off social constraints strained credibility. But it you don’t take it too seriously, it is an entertaining read. And perhaps perfect as we await spring. The series continues with Murder in the Mercery (March 2016).
To her other series, Face down in…. And Secrets of the Tudor Court series
If you like Sarah Woodbury, Fiona Buckley, Margaret Frazer
Parts of her disguise had begun to itch, and she was hungry despite gorging herself on hazelnuts.
“Most women would have run screaming from a room at their first glimpse of an intruder.” “…that thought never crossed my mind.” “You barely thought at all.”
…the beard was a thing of beauty, as were Laski’s clothes.
Rosamund was far from satisfied and it struck her suddenly that although she would be wise to comply with the principal secretary’s orders, she didn’t not have to do so with meek obedience.
Read as an ARC from Netgalley