Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Tidal Poole by Karen Harper

The Tidal Poole opens as Elizabeth's triumphant procession to Westminster Palace is marred by the brutal murder of a high-born, high-living lady of the court. Abetted by her irresistible band of loyal retainers, the young queen is soon spearheading a sub rosa investigation of the crime - an investigation that leads inexorably to a sinister plot against Elizabeth herself.

Climaxing in a midnight voyage through the murderous tidal pools swirling under London Bridge and highlighting a magnificent queen in the first full flush of her power, it is essential reading for lovers of romantic mystery, history, and regal adventure.

The second book in the Queen Elizabeth I mysteries, following on from The Poyson Garden, this book starts with the coronation of Elizabeth as Queen of England, and the subsequent parade through the streets of London. Throughout the crowds, there are some of her own favourite people, including in Arundel House, her close friends John and Bella Harrington and their family and her cousin Lady Frances Brandon Grey Stokes and her family. During the parade, Bella's sister is murdered, and it is first thought to be a crime of passion, but it eventually seems that there is much more to the murder, and that it might strike a lot closer to Elizabeth than it seems. It also then becomes clear that Elizabeth has to be careful who she can trust - even those who she has long standing connections with can sometimes not be trusted! With only two weeks until Parliament is due to open, Elizabeth and her friends need to solve the mystery... and quickly.

The only irritating thing throughout this book was that Elizabeth had caught a cold, and she kept it all the way through the book....and there were numerous references to it! Well, too many references in my opinion anyway!

This was a good second book in the series. The action was fast, there were lots of new characters to meet that I suspect will carry forward into future books, as Elizabeth gathers a group of trusted people around her, including the usual people like Cecil and Dudley, but also including some common people like Ned Topside (her fool), Meg Milligrew (her herbalist) and Jenks, who works in her stables.

Part of the subplot in both books so far are to determine who exactly Meg Milligrew is. In the first book in the series, she has no idea who she really is, but in this second book Meg does discover her identity, but does not recover her memory. When she discovers that she is actually married and from a Catholic family opposed to Elizabeth, she has to decide where her loyalties lie. I am sure that this thread will also continue through the next couple of books at least as well.

With another 7 books in the series to read, I am sure that it will continue to develop going forward.

Rating 4/5

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