murderNot a bad book, but I had a hard time getting through it for a couple of reasons.

I enjoy a good mystery and I get an especial pleasure from a good historical mystery. I love the feeling of learning about the past while enjoying a good story. Brother Cadfael, Mary Russell, Maisie Dobbs, Catherine LeVendeur – all characters in historical mysteries that left me feeling that I knew more about what it was like to live at that time, in addition to having read a great story.

Unfortunately, Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe is more about the history than the story – it’s filled with endless historical detail. If you’re interested in a very thorough dissertation on life in London in 1583, this is the book for you. I’m impressed with the research Emerson did. I’m sure it’s very accurate. I’m less impressed with her story-telling ability.

The other problem that I had makes me feel that I’m being a little unfair to the author. This is a story about a young woman working undercover as a spy in 1500’s London. In other words, almost exactly what Y S Lee has written of so incredibly well in her Agency novels. Mistress Jaffrey’s history is very different from Mary Quinn’s, but if you’re going to write a story about a woman working under cover in Elizabethan England you’re asking for comparison with the best, and Emerson just doesn’t have the hand with characters and story-telling that Lee does.

Bottom line: not bad, just sterile.