To Ruin a Queen

Fiona Buckley, Author Scribner Book Company $23 (288p) ISBN 978-0-684-86268-2
Readers with a taste for melodramatic suspense will relish this solid historical, the fourth in the Ursula Blanchard series from the pseudonymous Buckley. Upon learning that her daughter has been kidnapped, Ursula hastens home from France to England. The kidnapping, however, proves to have been a ruse. A plot is afoot in Wales to blackmail Queen Elizabeth, and Ursula must go undercover to learn the particulars and prevent a scandal--or worse. Aided by her manservant Brockley, Ursula contends with such challenges as her near-death during childbirth, a haunted watchtower, an attempted rape, a menacing witch and repeated instances of sexism. (The oppression of women is vividly--if rather insistently--portrayed.) Buckley (Queen's Ransom) fills the plot with harrowing twists: Ursula and Brockley are accused of murder and thrown in a musty dungeon; Ursula and two comrades face what appears certain death, trapped in an abandoned lodge high in the Welsh mountains. Ursula's steely nerves, keen intuition and abiding devotion to the queen see her through it all. Buckley takes a Chaucerian interest in characters from all social strata, their garments, physical distinctions and manners. At times, such pedantic details stop the plot cold. In addition, some readers will be put off by the author's habit of withholding key information from them while revealing it to the characters. Buckley's loyal following, however, should make this as much a success as previous books in the series. (Dec. 4)
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
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