St. Martin's, Oct 2003, 24.95, 320 pp.
Six years have passed since Elizabeth was crowned but she and her Secretary of State William Cecil still worry that her enemies will try to take the throne away from her. She makes her childhood friend Robert Dudley the Earl of Leicester and offers him as a husband to her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. By doing this, she hopes to make Lord Henry Stewart so appealing that Mary will want this weakling and defuse the threat she poses to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth declares that the twelve days of Christmas in 1564 will be a joyous celebration but the Queen's mood turns ugly when one of her cook's is murdered and dressed up in death as a peacock. Elizabeth thinks this killing was aimed at The Earl of Leicester, who many call a peacock because he wears bright colors and therefore indirectly at her. She consults with her trusted Privy Plot Council on this matter. Malicious pranks played on the Queen during the holiday make her suspect everyone except Cecil. When a second murder occurs Elizabeth goes on the offensive and almost gets killed.
THE QUEENE'S CHRISTMAS is a very enlightening historical mystery as the readers sees how Elizabeth feels about her deceased parents and dead sister. The author, using the third person narrative, shows how Elizabeth makes it plain that though she may love, she will not marry because she doesn't trust any man to let her rule in her own right. There are many viable viable who would like Elizabeth dead, which means that readers are treated to a rare cerebral puzzle. Karen Harper is one of the few authors who educates while she entertains.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner