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Murder at Westminster Abbey
Elizabethan Mystery #2
Amanda Carmack

Obsidian Mystery
April 1, 2014/ ISBN 0451415124
Historical Mystery

Reviewed by Cheryl Green


In 1559, Elizabeth, now queen, has moved her court to London. Her coronation is to be very soon. Of course her favorite musician, Kate Haywood, is part of this very large entourage. She has worked with her father on the music for this very special event.

After playing her lute with the royal musicians on a barge going to the Tower, Kate has fallen asleep in the room she is sharing with the junior ladies-in-waiting. She shares her own bed with her best friend Lady Mary Everley. Kate is woken up by the Queen herself. Elizabeth wants her to go with her right away. She leads Kate across the Tower grounds to a church - St Peter ad Vincula. Elizabeth tells Kate her mother, Anne Boleyn, is buried under the marble. This is a very special private moment that Kate gets to share with her Queen.

The next night, while watching a play given in Elizabeth’s honor, Kate spots an old friend on stage. A young lad in the company soon comes to talk to Kate. He tells her that Rob Cartman needs to see her right away. Kate agrees since Rob once saved her life. Kate is disguised as a young man. She spies several members of the royal court out imbibing. Arriving at a bawdy house, Kate is shown to a room and sees Rob huddled by the fire. He explains what has been happening. He did not kill Nell; he just walked into her room and found her dead body. Kate agrees to help him find out who killed Nell. She can easily ask questions at court without coming under suspicion.

The coronation takes place at Westminster Abbey. That night there is a banquet in Elizabeth’s honor. Kate is playing her lute with the other musicians when the Queen beckons her. She is looking for Lady Mary Everley. Elizabeth is not pleased that she is not around. Kate is then tasked with finding her. She sees a light in the Abbey and goes to investigate. The flickering candlelight is coming from Henry VII’s chapel. Inside she finds Mary on the floor – she has been murdered.

Things to ponder: Who is Mary Everley kissing in the moonlight? Who lost a very expensive silver button? Why was Nell murdered – is it her resemblance to Queen Elizabeth - or a jealous lover? Just what were Lady Mary Everley, her friend Lady Catherine Grey and the Count de Feria whispering about?

Amanda Carmack paints a glowing picture that gives you a glimpse into life in Tudor England. The brush strokes reveal the pageantry, secret trysts, plenty of revelry, newly formed alliances and many whispered exchanges. There are plenty of twists and turns plus an assortment of red herrings that will happily keep you turning those pages. The author has done a tremendous amount of research which lets you feel as if you are right there. This well-plotted story is quite intriguing and I love the mixing of fictional characters with real historical people. The third in this series - Murder in the Queen’s Garden will be out in February 2015. I can’t wait to see what Kate Haywood will be up to in her next escapade. So if you like a mystery filled with back-stabbing people who are jockeying for a better position in Queen Elizabeth’s court, then you should be reading Murder at Westminster Abbey.

Reviewed 2014