Scribner, Dec 2002, 24.00, 288 pp.
In 1565, Ursula Blanchard mourns the death of her husband Matthew de la Roche at her English estate Withyshem given to her by Queen Elizabeth I for her services to the crown. Ursula is ready to retire from her life as a secret agent when her relatives the Faldenes ask her to find their son, her cousin Edward, who is traveling to Scotland to give a list of English sympathizers to Mary, Queen of Scots.
Even though she has little love for the Faldenes, Ursula doesn't want to see her cousin hang for treason nor does she want the list to fall into Mary's hands. Ursula and her tirewoman Fran Dale and her manservant Roger Brockley travel into Scotland only to find Edward dead, the victim of an assassin's blade. Instead of going home, Ursula chooses to stay in Scotland to track down the list and find out who killed her cousin. This decision will cost her dearly.
The heroine of this tale acts like a modern day woman with her independence, decisiveness and willingness to go after what she wants. Her sense of loyalty to family and her queen is admirable even though by going to Scotland without royal permission she knows she could be accused of treason. Fiona Buckley is a gifted storyteller who recreates with accuracy an era long gone but quite vivid in the minds of readers. Fans of this series will be delighted to know that the sixth Ursula Blanchard mystery has a startling revelation as well as a wedding to attend.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner