Her Majesty's Mischief (A Simon & Elizabeth Mystery)
by Peg Herring
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432830700
Date: 18 June 2015 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Peg Herring writes mysteries and has two popular series: The Dead Detective and the Simon and Elizabeth mysteries. In Her Majesty’s Mischief, Simon Maldon, an apothecary, seeks the murderer of his brother-in-law, but is diverted on a diplomatic mission for Queen Elizabeth. In his absence, Elizabeth sends a trusted guardsman to find clues.
While traveling to Scotland to see Mary, Queen of Scotland, Simon is involved in murder, treachery, and intrigue. The mission's guide disappears, and Simon suspects murder. Despite concerns about their safety, the travelers are diverted to the holding of an earl in the marches where bandits live.
The earl informs them Queen Mary will visit soon and invites them to stay until she arrives. It seems the earl has fallen on difficult times and unknown to the Englishmen, has his owns plans for Mary. At first, the group is treated as well as the earl, but soon Simon and the leader of the English party discover all is not as the earl has told them.
Soon the earl's real nature is exposed when he imprisons the diplomats. Only Simon manages to elude him. However, the bandits of the marches wait for the unwary.
Meanwhile, in Simon's absence, Elizabeth is determined to find the murderer of Simon's kinsman. She sends Calkin, an old friend of Simon's, to investigate. He tells the local people he is looking for his cousin Denis.
Calkin is impressed with Annie, the murdered man's wife, and her cooking. He doesn't tell of his real mission. Romance blooms for this middle-aged couple, but will see tragedy again as the killer turns his sights on Calkin.
Herring creates a glimpse into the life of commoners and a bit of Elizabeth's political concerns over her cousin, Mary. The dual tales hold the readers’ interest with sufficient diversions to make the stories interesting. Other authors have also written mysteries set in this period such as Amanda Carmack and Karen Harper.