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Posted October 10, 2011
In 1552, King Edward VI sends a messenger to escort Thomas Carthburt Master Apothecary to Whitehall. His apprentice Simon Maldon accompanies Master Carthburt. Thomas explains to his apprentice the king wants to know what killed Lord Amberson who was healthy while dining with the monarch when suddenly he was in horrific agony. Carthburt believes arsenic poisoning is the cause. Lord Protector Dudley assigns the apothecary to provide whatever the king requires to keep him safe, but warns them to be silent and not to investigate.
A second death occurs when Marie apparently trips and breaks her neck. While everyone assumes a sad accident happened, Simon wonders otherwise with two deaths on the same day being quite a coincidence. Most at Whitehall look at ambitious Princess Elizabeth, second in line to the throne, as trying to poison her ailing brother. Elizabeth fears the real culprit is framing her and will try again so she contacts Simon to assist her like he did six years ago (see Her Highness' First Murder). Simon's fiancée Hannah, transfers from Hampstead Castle to go undercover at Whitehall. Additional poisonings and other accidents all point at Elizabeth. With Simon and Hannah, Elizabeth investigates the closed castle conspiracy.
The key to the Simon & Elizabeth (& Hannah) Mystery is that the princess comes across plausible as an amateur sleuth. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the messenger escorts to the apothecary and his apprentice to the palace and never slows down until the final denouement. Fans of Karen Harper's Elizabeth I Mystery and Fiona Buckley's Ursula Blanchard Mystery will want to read this strong entry that occurs several years before the princess becomes the queen.