Other historical mysteries have been set during the long reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In Harpers series, the queen herself becomes the detective. In this episode, Elizabeth finds an eerie looking pockmarked effigy of herself in her waiting coach. Well aware of the dangers of small pox, when dead bodies of women seemingly scarred by the pox mysteriously appear, the queen is determined to undercover the perpetrator of these grizzly pranks.
Harper gives us a pro-active, young queen well aware of her tenuous hold on the crown. The center piece of the story is the historic impact on Elizabeth when she indeed did almost die from the disease. Elizabeths fascination with Lord Robert Dudley (Robin) features heavily in the plot as does her trusted, and not so trusted, advisers, including the faithful William Cecil. There are back references to the execution of Sir Thomas More, which served to galvanize his Catholic supporters and thus threaten Elizabeth.
The state of Elizabethan medicine is revealed here and is discussed at length in the informative Authors Note. The depiction of Elizabeths personality and the credible period speech patterns give the reader a taste of the queens England. A nice map of London, circa 1550, is included along with a much needed list of past events and dates, and a genealogy of the Tudor Family, Friends and Foes. The queens cure was the annual event of touching scrofula victims, performed by the reigning monarch to supposedly cure them.
This is the fourth book in the Queen Elizabeth I series.