Murder at Westminster Abbey: An Elizabethan Mystery
by Amanda Carmack
Review by Mel Jacob
Signet Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451415127
Date: 01 April 2014 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Kate Hayward, a musician in Queen Elizabeth's court, is again called upon to solve a murder in Amanda Carmack's second Elizabethan Mystery, Murder at Westminster Abbey. A young woman who resembles the queen is murdered. The only clue is a unique silver button. When another murder follows, Kate suspects plots against the new queen. She risks her life to save a friend and stop the murderer before Elizabeth or another woman dies.
Kate's friend, the actor Rob Cartman, asks her help. He believes a courtier killed Nell, a whore and his mistress. The woman has flaming red hair like Queen Elizabeth. Because of Rob's help solving a murder earlier, Kate agrees to investigate.
Attempts to kill the new queen are rife. A gift of Elizabeth's favorite wine is poisoned, but fails to find its target. One presumptuous woman who tries on a gown sent to Elizabeth dies an agonizing death. Only constant vigilance keeps the queen safe.
Processions and celebrations follow Elizabeth's coronation. Kate's close friend Lady Mary Everly appears distracted and doesn't attend a banquet. Seeking Mary, Kate glimpses light in a chapel and investigates only to find Mary dead and a silver button in her hand, the mate to one from Nell's killer.
Various noble families jostle for position and Elizabeth's favor. There is no dearth of Tudor relatives, and some have friendly relations with the Spanish ambassador. Kate makes a visit to the Spanish embassy and manages to identify a number of those relatives as well as overhear bits of their conversation.
Carmack provides plenty of period detail and joins a number of other authors writing about the Tudors including Karen Harper, C.J. Samson, and Gregory House. Kate is likable, but perhaps too brave for the times. An exciting climax puts Kate in danger of losing her life. Cormack's first Elizabethan Mystery was Murder at Hatfield House followed by Murder at Westminster Abbey. Those who like historical cozies will enjoy this one.