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A Corpse in Cipher: A Tudor Murder Mystery (The Elspet Stafford Mysteries) (Volume 1) Paperback – December 8, 2015
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About the Author
Lizzy Drake has been studying Medieval and Tudor England for over 15 years and has an MA in Medieval Archaeology from the University of York, England. She has been writing for much longer but the Elspet Stafford Mysteries began her writing career in the genre. When not writing or researching, Lizzy can be found reading or gardening. She balances time between her two homes in Essex, UK and California.
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In a schoolgirlish way, Elspet has fallen in love with the man she is to marry though she has not met him. Unfortunately, her adventures begin with a messenger bringing news of his death. But is he really dead?
This and a few other fanciful questions are tossed around in this quick-paced and rather fanciful story. Elspet quickly befriends a crotchety old dowager duchess who intends for the younger girl to marry her son - another Plantagenet descendant created for the purposes of this story. One would think if there were all these claimants to the throne, Henry would not have it. Of course, there were plenty of Staffords, Howards, Courtenays and others at this time in a similar position, so a part of me just felt that it was odd to create several new family lines, but that is just my opinion.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the detail of everyday life in Tudor England. Elspet washes up with fresh linens, struggles to lace up her own clothes when an attendant is not available, worries about the lack of firewood set aside for the winter. In the midst of a somewhat convoluted plot, these historical tidbits were appreciated.
Setting nearly the whole story in one house does give the book a slightly claustrophobic feel, and although current political happenings are referenced and bear on the plot, all that seems to happen at one remove. Future books in the series, however, seem likely to address this, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what Elspet Stafford does next.