The Fatal Fashione: An Elizabeth I Mystery Mass Market Paperback – Nov 28 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I'm very glad I invested both the time and the money in this one. In addition to outlining the atmosphere of Elizabethan England through a lot of great description that moves along, Harper provides readers with a great "whodunit," to the point that no one is sure who killed the starcher and laundress until very near the end. And like a good "whodunit," she makes the motive work.
Her characterizations are terrific as well -- Harper brings Elizabeth I across as a feisty, "never say die," compassionate figure, one is deserving of the crown of England and the loyalty of her subjects.
The only problem I had with this book is that it strained my imagination to think that a Queen with the responsibilities of Elizabeth I had time to run around and solve mysteries while the country ran itself (this was the time before English royalty was largely ceremonial -- kings and queens actually made life and death decisions about their subjects).
Yet Harper manages to make it work.
In short, Harper does what authors are supposed to do -- to take care of their readers by introducing likeable characters.
I wouldn't hesitate to buy and read her other books.
Amy Wolff Sorter, author, Servant of the Gods
As in the previous novels in the series, the peace of Elizabeth's kingdom is threatened by murder most foul. Harper does a nice job of juxtaposing the murder mystery with Elizabeth's fears of a northern uprising and the queen's constant worries over exactly how much of a threat Mary, Queen of Scots posed. I think this nicely shows how Elizabeth was concerned not only with the political in that she frets about the well-being of her country as a whole but also the personal in that she takes such an interest in her subjects.
Harper's other strength are her secondary characters. Those who have read the series have likely come to feel like Meg, Jenks, and Ned are friends and it is always welcome to read about the characters triumphs and to worry about their misfortunes. I felt the same sense of urgency Elizabeth felt when one of her favorites was placed in a position of grave danger.
As for the mystery itself, it is well-plotted and it is always intriguing to see how Harper uses period details to create innovative methods of executing a crime. This book's victim meets her end in the very vat in which she starches the highly fashionable ruffs that are helping her to earn her fortune. This is characteristic of Harper's writing in that the ends that the unfortunate victims meet provide a peek into the clever and diabolical minds of their killers.
Also admirable is the deft way in which Harper weaves the romances of secondary characters skillfully into the narrative to serve as emphasis of the lonely position that Elizabeth has chosen for herself. I've certainly always understood that Elizabeth's defiance when it came to the subject of marriage was certainly a political risk but it was Harper who made me begin to think of what a personal risk it must have been.