Bottom Line: A highly original historical scavenger hunt with roots in the Elizabethan period, this cozy mystery is highly recommended for Steve Berry fans.
1563, London. Lady Blanche ap Harry leads a band of thieves out of the palace and to a ferry waiting on the Themes. Their cargo? A box containing a “treasure” known as Elizabeth’s Rose. As in the best Steve Berry novels, Megan Goodenough has taken a historically accepted fact and turned it on its side. The remarkable premise: what if Queen Elizabeth I – who has been known throughout the ages as the virgin queen – wasn’t childless after all?
Goodenough deftly alternates the narrative between the Elizabethan period and the present day. She uses historical figures, such as Lady Blanche and Lady Ada Lovelace, to great effect, and among the clues left for her modern-day sleuth – an artist named Cas – are their juicy letters.
But Cas’ motivation isn’t simply borne out of a passion for solving history’s mysteries. Some five centuries after the the box was smuggled out of the palace, the legacy of Elizabeth’s Rose has hit dangerously close to home. Enter Ruben, a cloak-and-dagger operative (and love interest). He’s not who he says he is, but Cas has no choice but to trust him.
Goodenough manages an ensemble cast that at times feels a bit too expansive. But as Cas’ quest for truth leads her on a scavenger hunt for the Rose across England, it all comes into focus, and the purpose of every character in this intricately woven tale is solidly justified. Sorting out the secret societies and spies Cas encounters along the way is a real joy for any cozy mystery fan.