Face Down Across The Western Sea
In this, the seventh Susanna, Lady Appleton mystery, Emerson involves her characters in a convoluted plot by England to prove its claim to the New World. Susanna’s friend Sir Walter Pendennis, spy and diplomat to the Court of Elizabeth I, invites a number of scholars–as well as noted herbalist Susanna–to his estate to investigate the discrepancies in the sailors’ accounts of the land beyond the Western Sea and to resolve, at long last, the question of whose land it is.
But not before one of the scholars is murdered. Susanna’s job then becomes one of sleuthing to uncover the murderer as well as looking into the scholarly texts to ascertain whether there is a case to be made for England’s claim.
Although true to the period and useful in their historic detail, I find the Appleton mysteries to be unnecessarily complex. Too many characters with too many different agendas involve us in way too many subplots for my taste. This entry simply didn’t capture my imagination although the subject matter is, or should have been, fascinating.