Brendan Prescott, a foundling raised by the powerful Dudley family, is sent to court to be a squire for his childhood rival, the arrogant Robert Dudley. Robert's first task for Brendan is to deliver a ring to Princess Elizabeth, his love. But Brendan is convinced that Robert is up to no good, and aided by those who support Elizabeth's reign, Brendan begins to act as a rogue double agent. Guided by William Cecil, Elizabeth's protector and an agent for the Dudleys, Brendan warns the future Queen Elizabeth that someone is out to destroy her. Elizabeth, however knows how tricky court can be and refuses to leave court before visiting her dying brother Edward. This leads Elizabeth, and all her followers into a twisted dance with Duke of Northumberland. Although Brendan's life in endanger, his service to Elizabeth could be very rewarding.
C.W. Gortner's work is astounding. This book is billed as a mystery, and it certainly lives up to that standard. Gortner starts the action early, and it continues well after the book ends. At least in my mind it did. The setting of the stage and characters are virtually nonexistent, and it works well. Gortner develops his characters throughout the novel, and all the protagonists are well written. Elizabeth is a hard but lovable future queen, complete with all her quirks. Brendan is a sympathetic character. Peregrine almost had to be my favorite sidekick. He is a lovable ruffian. The Dudleys definitely get the raw end of the stick here. Even Robert is not favorably portrayed, but history is on the fence about Robert. The plot is exciting. The twists and turns were well placed. Gortner's writing is always enjoyable and this one is no different. While this is the first mystery of his that I have read, I read and thoroughly enjoyed his book The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. And his other book The Last Queen is on my tbr shelf.
I received this book from Heather at The Maiden's Court along with a Elizabeth I pendant necklace. Thanks again Heather!