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"More buckle than the Scarlet Pimpernel, more swash than all three Musketeers -- that splendid Elizabethan courtier Sir Robert Carey returns."

Dana Stabenow

Sir Robert Carey has finally caught up with Queen Elizabeth, his cousin (and aunt, via his father, a probable bastard of Henry VIII). He is hoping Her Majesty will give him his warrant and fee for being Deputy Warden of the English West March.

Instead she hands him the most dangerous cold case of her reign – the death in 1560 of Amy Dudley nee Robsart, unloved wife of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

The Queen is about to make a state visit to Oxford – but she has other reasons for being near the town. Cumnor Place, where Amy Robsart died is close at hand.

Some thirty years back, the late Robert Dudley,  Earl of Leicester, was Elizabeth’s favourite suitor and potential husband – if only he hadn’t been married to Amy first. After she died mysteriously, the Queen herself has since been one of the most obvious suspects for arranging Amy’s murder.

This makes Carey deeply uneasy with his role when Her Majesty hands him the cold case to investigate. He is worried because his father, the Queen’s possible bastard half-brother, is clearly involved.

Then someone manages to poison Carey with belladonna, which temporarily blinds him. Worse still, Sergeant Dodd, the man best at guarding Carey’s back, has disappeared on the road from London.

As the Queen’s scandalous past collides with her magnificent State entrance into Oxford, can Carey rally in time to find both Dodd and the true murderer of Amy Robsart?