“Conspiracy, treason, perjury, and forgery, along with . . . political assassination, and several deadly sins . . . While Ms. Weir does not stint on the sensational details, she is above all a historian and dogged researcher. She sifts through sources, which were often compromised, and thinks like a forensics expert.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“One of the most intriguing murder mysteries in European history . . . No stone is left unturned in Weir’s investigation, and . . . her book is as dramatic as witnessing firsthand the most riveting court case.”
—Booklist (boxed and starred review)
“The finest historian of English monarchical succession writing now is Alison Weir. . . . Her assiduousness and informed judgment are precisely what make her a writer to trust.”
—The Boston Globe
“Alison Weir has perfected the art of bringing history to life.”
Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587), has for centuries fascinated historians and the general public, her life the stuff of Hollywood myth, involving murder, rape, adultery, abdication, imprisonment and execution. In bestselling historian Weir's (Henry VIII, etc.) able hands, we see the young Catholic queen ruling over Protestant Scotland and a group of unruly nobles. Mary's second husband, Lord Darnley, participated in the 1566 murder of Mary's favorite adviser, David Rizzio, after which Mary and Lord Darnley became estranged. Darnley himself was murdered the next year, and some historians have claimed that Mary plotted his death so she could marry her lover, Bothwell. But Weir argues convincingly that the evidence against Mary is fraudulent, part of a coverup initiated by rebellious lords. Weir tells how and why Darnley was killed, and, shockingly, reveals that Bothwell, whom Mary did marry, was one of the murderers. Mary's lords took up arms against her, and she was forced to abdicate, fleeing to England, where she expected her cousin Queen Elizabeth to help her regain her throne. Instead, Mary was held captive for 16 years and finally beheaded for plotting Elizabeth's assassination. Mary could not hope for a better advocate than Weir, who exhaustively evaluates the evidence against her and finds it lacking. Mary's ultimate sin, according to Weir, was not murder but consistently "poor judgment," especially in choosing men. This is entertaining popular history that will satisfy fans of Weir's previous bestsellers. 16 pages of color illus. (Apr.) Forecast: Antonia Fraser's bio of Mary, Queen of Scots, was reissued in paperback in 2001 and still sells. But major review attention, Weir's proposed resolution of a longstanding mystery and a 9-copy floor display with special riser should help this achieve satisfying sales. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Weir (Eleanor of Aquitaine) sets out to prove that contrary to supposition Mary, Queen of Scots, was innocent of the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley. As a Catholic, Mary was already unpopular with her mainly Protestant countrymen. After her strategic yet imprudent marriage to Lord Darnley, she learned that his intention was to assume control of the throne; subsequently, an explosion at his lodgings left him dead. Admitting that the circumstantial evidence against Mary is strong, Weir reexamines incriminating items such as Mary's "casket letters," which she contends were doctored by her enemies. She further argues that Mary's lords bitterly resented Darnley and had already proven themselves capable of murder after killing her valued counselor, Rizzio. Weir skillfully analyzes the politics and religious tensions of the time. But while she adeptly makes her case, her detailed and sometimes dense book will intrigue mainly monarchy buffs. Recommended for large public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/02.]-Isabel Coates, CCRA-Toronto West Tax Office, Mississauga, Ont. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Entertaining royal historian Weir (Henry VIII: The King and His Court, 2002, etc.) falters with a dull attempt to discover who ordered the death of Mary Stuart’s husband in 1567. At the time, it was widely assumed that Mary was complicit in the killing, which rid her of a detested, politically maladroit spouse and cleared the way for marriage to her lover, the Earl of Bothwell. Not so, declares Weir, naming as the prime instigators Mary’s Secretary of State, William Maitland, and her half-brother the Earl of Moray, bastard son of Scotland’s James V. Aided by much of Scotland’s Protestant nobility, they lured Bothwell into the murder plot, she asserts, planning to make him the scapegoat, to discredit Mary and force her to abdicate so they could become the powers behind the throne of her infant son James. This is plausible, but Weir’s primary goal is to clear Mary of any involvement. Examining the documentary evidence in stupefying detail, she dismisses the notorious Casket Letters, which seemed to prove Mary’s guilt, as combinations of forgery and alterations to existing letters; this argument is considerably more convincing than her denial that Mary and Bothwell were lovers before Darnley’s death. Weir’s own narrative shows Mary well aware that some threat to her husband was afoot and doing little to forestall it. We observe throughout that the Queen of Scots was a lousy politician with remarkably poor judgment, in striking contrast to England’s Queen Elizabeth, who played the messy Scottish scandal to her advantage. (Mary wound up imprisoned in England and was executed in 1587 for conspiring against Elizabeth.) Weir assesses the possibility that Elizabeth’s secretary of state had a handin Darnley’s murder, or at least knew who the perpetrators were, at a level of detail that would have made the whole study more readable had it been applied to the Scottish portions as well. She entirely fails to make the case that Mary was "one of the most wronged women in history." Strictly for those who like their murder mysteries ancient and peopled by aristocrats.