A Murder Too Soon

Review by Francesca Pelaccia

A Murder Too Soon is the second book of the Jack Blackjack mysteries set in 1554 London. Jack, a former “cutpurse,” must become an assassin for his employer, John Blount. His intended target is one of Princess Elizabeth’s attendants who is believed to be a spy for the princess’s half-sister, Queen Mary. But, on arriving in Woodstock, where the princess is being held under guard in the likelihood that she may want to kill the queen and usurp the crown, Lady Margery is murdered by someone else. Jack, however, is the “first finder” and blamed. To clear his name, Jack stumbles his way through the palace and a host of characters, who are hiding their own secrets and may have their own reasons for wanting Lady Margery dead.

A Murder Too Soon is pure entertainment. Jack is a lovable misfit who always finds himself in trouble but manages to sweet-talk or connive himself out. The various settings and the other characters, significant or not, are intricately illustrated, bringing them to vivid and humorous life. The climate of the time is captured concisely, depicting those who support Queen Mary, and her desire to restore Catholicism to England again, and those like Princess Elizabeth, who prefer the Church of England to continue.

The novel is a fun and enjoyable romp, and I look forward to seeing what mishap next awaits the unlikely hero of Jack Blackjack.