Forge, Sept 2003, 24.95, 336 pp.
She is the daughter of Pope Alexander VI and the sister of Cesare Borgia, a ruthless and powerful person, who lives to make war and add land to his empire. Respect of his power and fear of his anger keeps his sister safe at the royal court of Ferrara where she is married to the Duke's heir Alfonso. Their marital state is no love match, but a political alliance that furthers Cesare's goals.
After six weeks of marriage, Alfonso publicly accuses his wife of killing his mistress and her lady-in-waiting Bianca Tedaldo. Lucrezia is angry that her husband would say such things in public after she was making a place for herself in Ferrara. She intends to stop the rumors that are now swirling about her in court by finding the real killer. Just when it looks like she has figured out who the poisoner is, someone impersonating Alfonso's brother murders her suspect at a masked gala. Positive that the two killings are linked, she, her two closest friends, and her maid embark upon a search for a murderer who will not hesitate to kill again.
Robert Gellis is one of the best writers of historical mysteries (especially medieval and renaissance Europe) in the last decade. Her stories are exciting and enthralling because her research works its way in support of the plot so that the reader feels as if he or she is actually visiting Renaissance Italy. Cameo appearance by Leonardo De Vinci is a nice touch that gives the audience a sense of place and time. Hopefully this will be the start of a new series of mysteries starring Lucrezia Borgia.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner