THE SIREN QUEEN: An Ursula Blanchard Mystery at Queen Elizabeth I's Court

Fiona Buckley, Author . Scribner $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7432-3752-9

British author Buckley's excellent eighth Ursula Blanchard novel offers fine writing and deft plotting while vividly bringing the past to life. Where earlier volumes used historical mysteries that have sparked heated debate over the centuries, such as the sudden death of Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 2003's The Fugitive Queen , this latest focuses on now obscure political intrigue involving an Italian banker, Roberto Ridolfi, in 1568. With threats to Elizabeth's throne looming, Blanchard, the queen's half-sister and occasional spy, uncovers suspicious correspondence pointing to a scheme to place Mary on the English throne. After the courier charged with delivering those messages turns up dead and a second murder soon follows, Blanchard, her husband and her loyal retinue seek evidence of motive and opportunity while alerting the beleaguered secretary of state, Lord Cecil, to the plot and working to forestall it. Experienced whodunit readers may identify the culprit more easily than they'd like, but the author's rare ability to effortlessly integrate fact and fiction and the cliffhanger ending will leave both old and new fans eagerly awaiting the next installment. Agent, Dominick Abel. (Dec. 7)

FYI: Buckley is the pseudonym of Valerie Anand.

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
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