The Poison Bed

Elizabeth Fremantle. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (416p) ISBN 978-1-64313-024-8
Set in England during the reign of James I, this craftily constructed historical from Fremantle (Queen’s Gambit) makes deft use of a real-life crime that provoked “a scandal that rocked the Jacobean court and was one of the initial cracks that would eventually lead to the devastation of the Stuart monarchy,” according to an author’s note. Fremantle creates suspense by delaying the revelation of the poisoning victim’s identity, unfolding the story through alternating sections told from the differing perspectives of the two main suspects: Robert Carr, who may have been James I’s secret lover, and Carr’s wife, Frances Howard. The origins of their relationship and the resulting intrigue that led to the fatal poisoning is recounted in flashbacks, as Carr and Howard are introduced while prisoners in the Tower of London, interrogated separately in the hopes of eliciting a confession that will implicate both of them. Fremantle does a masterly job of recreating the feel of the period, along with making the atmosphere of suspicion and plotting palpable. Readers will eagerly await her next historical. Agent: Jane Gregory, David Higham Assoc. (U.K.). (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/05/2019
Release date: 04/03/2019
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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