Murder at Westminster Abbey by Amanda Carmack

July 11, 2014 Historical Fiction, Mystery, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Murder at Westminster Abbey by Amanda CarmackMurder at Westminster Abbey by Amanda Carmack
Series: Elizabethan Mystery #2
Published by Signet on April 1, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
1559. Elizabeth is about to be crowned queen of England and wants her personal musician Kate Haywood to prepare music for the festivities. New to London, Kate must learn the ways of city life…and once again school herself as a sleuth.

Life at the center of the new royal court is abuzz with ambition and gossip—very different from the quiet countryside, where Kate served Elizabeth during her exile. Making her way among the courtiers who vie for the new queen’s favor, Kate befriends Lady Mary Everley. Mary is very close to Elizabeth. With their red hair and pale skin, they even resemble each other—which makes Mary’s murder all the more chilling.

The celebrations go on despite the pall cast over them. But when another redhead is murdered, Kate uncovers a deadly web of motives lurking just beneath the polite court banter, and follows the trail of a killer whose grievance can only be answered with royal blood.

This is my favorite type of mystery!  An intelligent, female amateur sleuth solving crimes in the richly-detailed setting of Tudor England.  Add a dash of romance, a puzzle with a natural yet surprising solution, and pull heavily from historical record and it’s no mystery why this book earns a well-deserved spot on my keeper shelf!

This is the second novel in Carmack’s ‘Elizabethan Mystery’ series.  Although there are a few references to the event sof the prior book, you do not need to read it to enjoy this one.

The story opens on the day of Elizabeth I’s coronation barge procession down the Thames River to the Tower of London.  Kate Haywood, a talented musician in Elizabeth’s court, becomes embroiled in the investigation of a series of seemingly unrelated murders of red-headed women that Kate soon learns is ultimately targeting England’s new queen.  Through her cunning observational skills and relative unobtrusiveness as a servant, red-headed Kate must figure out who is behind these murders before the culprit kills Elizabeth – or Kate herself!

I really enjoyed Carmack’s fictional portrayal of historic characters.  Besides Elizabeth, many other well-known names of the time play more than just a passing part in this historical mystery.  Robert Dudley, William Cecil, and Kat Ashley are just a few of these characters.  It is clear Ms. Carmack has done significant research into the lives, personality, and temperaments of the real-life characters appearing in her novel.  The level of detail, even subtle detail like the smell of the Thames, make this book a real treat for anyone who loves historical fiction.

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