Shortly after Elizabeth I addresses a deputation from Parliament to end once and for all the issue of a royal marriage in Harper's entertaining eighth historical (after 2005's The Fyre Mirror), the queen's herb mistress reports the discovery of the body of her majesty's favorite starcher—in a vat of starch. (The fashion for large, stiff ruffs has made starch a precious commodity.) When the daughter of the queen's financial adviser is reported missing and later found in shock, Elizabeth goes undercover into the streets of London to seek answers. As the number of murder victims grows along with the list of suspects, Elizabeth has to wonder if she herself will become the killer's next target. As ever, Harper skillfully interweaves fact and fiction, presenting a heroine who is as intelligent and gutsy a crime solver as she was a real-life monarch. Readers will never again look at pictures of the Virgin Queen in her elaborate ruffs in quite the same way. (Jan.)
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This is the eighth volume in Harper's popular series of mystery novels featuring Queen Elizabeth I of England as--yes--a sleuth investigating mayhem and murder in her beloved kingdom. The new fashion trend of heavily starched ruffs, those fancy, even outlandish (to modern eyes) collars that European men and women are seen wearing in paintings of days long ago, has set off keen competition among starching "houses" for the queen's patronage. Competition to the point of motivating murder, that is. As Her Majesty is wont to do (at least as Harper has her do, in these delightful novels), as if she didn't have enough on her plate with running the ship of state in particularly perilous times, she embroils herself in the crime's solution. And as always in these novels, the pattern of murder at hand seems to be leading in its inevitable conclusion to the murder of the queen herself. Historical-mystery lovers, and Harper's fans in particular, should rejoice at this latest installment. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.