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The Tidal Poole: An Elizabeth I Mystery

The Tidal Poole: An Elizabeth I Mystery

4.1 6
by Karen Harper

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It is the crowning day of twenty-five-year-old Bess Tudor's life as she returns from exile to become England's queen. But even as her magnificent procession wends its way to Westminster Palace, a shot rings out, muffled by the jostling crowd.

Within moments of becoming England's ruler, Elizabeth learns of the brutal murder of a highborn lady of the court, the


It is the crowning day of twenty-five-year-old Bess Tudor's life as she returns from exile to become England's queen. But even as her magnificent procession wends its way to Westminster Palace, a shot rings out, muffled by the jostling crowd.

Within moments of becoming England's ruler, Elizabeth learns of the brutal murder of a highborn lady of the court, the sister of one of her dearest friends. Elizabeth cannot refuse her friend's request to find the killer — especially since the prime suspect is too close to the crown — and her friends — to overlook.

Elizabeth must be circumspect. Trust can be deadly. So she summons her small band of loyal retainers and plunges into a cauldron of conflicting loyalties and deadly intrigue.

From the pomp, pageantry, and insidious gossip of the court to the lethal tidal pools swirling under London Bridge, the passionate young queen must seize the reins of her empire — and find a killer determined to destroy the crown itself....

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Harper's facility with historical figures such as William Cecil, Robert Dudley, and the treacherous Duchess of Suffolk is extraordinary."
Los Angeles Times

"Harper masterfully captures the Elizabethan tone in both language and setting and gives life to some fascinating historical figures....Elizabethan history has never been this appealing."
New York Newsday

Don't miss Karen Harper's acclaimed debut novel in The Elizabeth I Mystery Series, The Poyson Garden:

"Impressively researched...the author has her poisons and her historical details down pat."
Los Angeles Times

"A walk side-by-side with one of history's most dynamic characters."
— Anne Perry, author of Half Moon Street

"An entertaining cross between a swashbuckling historical romance and a mystery novel. The heroine is spunky, the courtiers scheme and truckle, capes swirl, daggers flash and horses gallop."
Portland Oregonian

Available from Dell

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Feisty young Bess tackles her second investigation with a single-minded thoroughness and toughness that would suit any gumshoe. Indeed, those qualities served Bess throughout her long reign, for she is none other than Bess Tudor, aka Queen Elizabeth I, the Tudor descendant destined to govern unruly England for 45 years. On the eve of her tortuous ascension to the throne, Bess looks forward to the conclusion of her stay at the Tower of London (where monarchs traditionally spend the week before their coronation) and the opportunity to end the plotting and infighting that have bedeviled the country since her father's death. Instead, the murder of a young woman along Bess's triumphal procession to Westminster Abbey casts suspicion on several trusted friends and causes her to undertake her own investigation, aided by a strange but effective cast of helpers. A nice mix of historical and fictional characters, deft twists and a plucky, engaging young heroine enhance this welcome sequel to The Poyson Garden. Harper's 16th-century England may not rival the beautifully woven tapestries of Ellis Peters or match the elegant atmospherics of Anne Perry, but her version of Elizabeth's England seethes with enough jealousies, feuds and plotters to furnish many more entertaining adventures. Author tour. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
About to celebrate her triumphant coronation in London, Queen Elizabeth I wonders what is keeping her good friend, Bella Harington, from the ceremony. Elizabeth later learns that Bella's younger sister, Penelope, has been murdered at approximately the same time that Elizabeth's procession was parading through London and that suspicion for the crime has been cast upon Bella's foster son, Jack St. Maur. Because of her friendship with Bella, Elizabeth promises to have someone look into the murder, but soon the queen herself, with the help of her special privy plot council, is on the trail of the killer. This second historical mystery by Harper featuring Elizabeth I as a sleuth picks up shortly after Elizabeth successfully solved the murders in The Poyson Garden (Dell, 2000/VOYA, Clueless, December 1999). The author excels at weaving historical details into an intricately patterned plot, painting a vibrant picture of the Elizabethan world. Although readers may have to stretch their willing suspension of disbelief to the maximum to accept Queen Bess as a sleuth, this mystery is an enjoyable read. Recommend this royal detective story to older teens, especially those who enjoy historical fiction or who like other Elizabethan mysteries by authors such as Fiona Buckley, Edward Marston, or Kathy Lynn Emerson. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2000, Delacorte, Ages 16 to Adult, 290p, $22.95. Reviewer: John Charles
Library Journal
In London but two months, the newly crowned Elizabeth I and her "Privy Plot Council" of four (groom, nurse, actor/fool, herbalist) begin investigating the murder/rape of the promiscuous sister of Isabella Harrington, a longtime friend and supporter of the queen. Mutual enemies slanderously implicate the Harringtons' foster son, whose real father (a Seymour) was beheaded for treason. Fans of Elizabethan historical mysteries will find ample sustenance here: a fiercely independent young queen, a loyal but feisty band of assistants, a plethora of historical characters, and an all-encompassing knowledge of the times. An excellent sequel to The Poyson Garden (LJ 2/1/99). [A Mystery Guild featured alternate.] Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Toby Bromberg
Peopled with historical figures and bounding with intrigue and mystery, The Tidal Poole is a triumphant read. Harper does a masterful job at recreating the era and her portrait of the young queen is brilliant. The intricate plot will immediately carry readers away to Elizabethan times.
Romantic Times

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Elizabeth I Mystery Series , #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

The main thoroughfare of London was awash with banners, pennants, and brocade bunting on the new queen's recognition day. Despite the cold, in a canopied, open litter borne by white mules, Elizabeth Tudor rode the adulation of her people through the swirls of their hurrahs. Down Fleet Street to where crowds poured into the Strand, she glittered in her gown and mantle of cloth of gold.

Like a great tide came her red-coated gentlemen pensioners with ceremonial battle-axes, then squires, footmen, and men mounted on a thousand prancing horses. Behind her rode Robert Dudley, her handsome Master of the Horse, mounted on a charger and leading her unmounted horse, which was covered with golden cloth. The members of her Privy Council, her governors, and her lieutenants seemed swept along in her broad wake.

The royal progress took all day, for the queen bade her cavalcade halt when someone in the crowd tendered an herbal nosegay or held up a baby. At certain sites proud citizens enacted play scenes, presented pageants and recitations, or sang madrigals. Despite the constant pealing of church bells, the Queen's Majesty stood to make impromptu speeches. The crowd would hush to hear, then blast the wintry air with roars louder than the river churning under London Bridge.

"Why did you bring me here, Meg?"

With all the noise Ned Topside had to put his mouth to Margaret Milligrew's ear so she could hear him. His warm breath made her shiver.

Looking for a good place to see their queen pass by for a third time, they had spent an hour elbowing their way ahead through crowds along the back entrances to the grand houses along the Strand. Part of Elizabeth's household, Meg and Ned had already seen her as she departed the Tower and again as she went by on Fleet Street.

"Don't exactly know why here," Meg shouted back. "But it seems a fine spot with that triumphal arch they built. She'll have to halt, we'll catch her eye, and she'll know we're with her all the way."

She saw Ned's green eyes narrow when he caught her darting glances overhead at a hanging apothecary sign of a painted Turk's head with a gilded pill on his extended tongue. She wasn't sure why that sign intrigued her so, but it did. She liked this area. Several people had smiled and greeted her, though most kept their eyes on the street.

"That apothecary's not going to be open today," Ned chided, shoving her along with a hand on her back, "so just forget dragging me in to see what herbs they sell." He took her elbow and pulled her along. "Since you've got me this far, we need to find a tree or windowsill to see in this stew of people. Ah, but what a fine crowd this would make for an audience if our queen would but let me make a speech and recite a scene along the way today."

Meg could barely hear his words when huzzahs swelled again. As ever, she felt Ned's mere touch, even an angry one, clear down in the pit of her belly. Of course, it could be caused by her melancholy since they all had to live in London now. Meg both mistrusted the place and felt its pull — just like with Ned Topside.

"Can't see someone called Queen's Fool putting on such airs," she scolded.

"That's the pot calling the kettle black. Your face lit like a Yuletide candle when Her Grace said you are to have a stipend for being Strewing Herb Mistress of the Privy Chamber. Gads, you'd think she'd given you Cecil's lofty title."

"At least," she shouted back, "just like in the country, we're all still her Privy Plot Council. Her Grace promised."

Ned rolled his eyes. "You think a queen will have the time or cause to unravel plots or murder schemes like the one that almost got us poisoned? Besides, doesn't all this show she'll have smooth sailing?" he asked with a gesture so broad he knocked a blue-coated apprentice on the back of the head.

The burly lad turned, a grin on his broad face but fists up, evidently spoiling for a good fight. "Oh it's you, mistress," he blurted when he saw Meg.

"Oh, aye, it's her all right," Ned said, playing along. "Come on, then," he ordered, yanking her after him, this time by the wrist, through the press of people. "I guess I've got to save you from that stale come-hither line 'Haven't we met before, my fine lady?'"

Suddenly Meg decided, as Her Grace always put it, to show her mettle. She jerked free from Ned's grasp and stood erect with her chin thrust out when he rounded on her again.

"Just stick with me, my man, and I'll get us a good place up front to see. Follow me, if you please.

"Stand aside, clear the way for the Lord Banbury," she called out in her best imitation of Elizabeth's crisp, clear, ringing voice, with tone and enunciation Ned had taught her. "You there, churl, Lord Banbury's coming through." Gaping, people parted for them as if they had the plague.

"Who in the deuce is Lord Banbury?" Ned asked out of the side of his mouth when they were finally settled on the inner edge of the crowd. They had a prime place just down from Lord Arundel's three-storied gatehouse, which overlooked the street, facing the Ring and Crown Tavern across from it.

"Lord Banbury? Don't have a notion," Meg admitted. "Like you in a pinch, I made him up."

"Look, there's the first of her parade coming!" Ned cried, and threw an arm around Meg's shoulders.

She leaned lightly against him, not daring more, because she still could not remember who she really was. But if she could, she'd probably still want Edward Thompson, alias the queen's new fool and principal player, Ned Topside.

Meet the Author

Karen Harper is the author of a number of contemporary suspense and historical romance novels. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, and Naples, Florida. The Tidal Poole is the second novel in her Elizabeth I mystery series. The third, The Twylight Tower, will be published by Delacorte Press in March 2001.

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The Tidal Poole: An Elizabeth I Mystery 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The whole concept of Queen Elizabeth I being the Nancy Drew of her reign sounds far fetched, yet this really does work! I enjoyed this one a little more than the first book. They are easy to follow and a 'quick read'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The whole book is wonderful, but the ending of it is the best! Better than the first. I can't stop reading this series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After finishing the first book, Poyson Garden, I was hooked and started reading her second book the same day. I liked this book alot more than the first one. The suspense is high and great twists and turns to make my mouth drop as I read. The 'final showdown' was exciting and intense, much better than poyson garden. Karen Harper has me hooked on this series! Keep 'em comin'!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed The Tidal Pool, as I enjoyed the previous book in the series. I read a great deal of historical fiction and this is some of the best, well written, with interesting historical facts. However, Ms. Harper should have check her chemistry book before having one of the characters state that saltpeter is potassium nitrate. Nitrogen was not named as an element till 1772 and potassium was named in 1807, well after the reign of Elizabeth I.