Author: C. W. Gortner , 2014.
Genre: Spy Thriller. Historical Fiction. Tudor England.
Other Details: Hardback. 304 pages.
Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain. Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen's behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favoured lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry's disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth's doom. - synopsis from author's website.
This proved an exciting and satisfying conclusion to this trilogy of novels focusing on the period following Henry VIII's death and the coronation of Elizabeth I told from the viewpoint of Brendan Prescott, who is caught up in various intrigues surrounding the Tudor dynasty. Gortner does a great job of re-creating the sense of unrest and uncertainty that gripped the nation in the wake of Queen Mary's death and Elizabeth coming to the throne.
Brendan's journey to the remote manor in Yorkshire with its many secrets reminded me in terms of atmosphere of C. J. Sansom's Dissolution, even if the cases being investigated are quite different. Sorry to see the end of Brendan's adventures though I expect that Gortner could always return him to Elizabeth's court later in her reign if his services are needed.