Scribner, Jan 2002, 23.00, 288 pp.
In 1564, Secretary of State Sir William Cecil worries about the safety of Queen Elizabeth when Her Majesty travels to Cambridge on a Royal Progress. William knows that the university town harbors religious fanatics who would love to assassinate the Queen and put her cousin on the throne. He is especially concerned with a student play that Elizabeth plans to attend.
William recalls lady-in-waiting and sometimes spy Ursula Blanchard, to return to work and do what she does so well going undercover. Ursula, who was rusticating with her preadolescent daughter, obtains a job in a very popular student hangout, Roland Jester's Pie Shop. There she hears plots and counterplots to include rumors on the accidental death of a student who worried about the Queen's safety while attending their performance.
QUEEN OF AMBITION cleverly blends genuine tidbits with fiction so that the reader obtains a strong historical mystery. The cogent story line engages the audience with a vividly described plot and a effective cast though some tertiary characters seem unnecessary to the well being of the tale. However, as with Fiona Buckley's four previous Blanchard novels this book belongs to the remarkable heroine who turns this story into a royal read for fans of Elizabethan novels and historical mysteries.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner