A Web of Silk (An Ursula Blanchard Mystery)

Written by Fiona Buckley
Review by Viviane Crystal

In 1582, Ursula Blanchard receives a summons from Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster for Queen Elizabeth. As this is book 16 in this popular series, the reader recognizes that Ursula is again putting herself in harm’s way. Fiona Buckley has a knack for plotting a seemingly simple story which turns out to be extraordinarily complex. Ursula is to teach the daughters of her neighbor Giles Frost to embroider and keep an eye on him at the same time. Giles does a large amount of trade with Spain and is thought to be passing the Spanish king information which may eventually lead to war. Ursula is to converse with Frost about false information. At the same time, Ursula visits a tradesman who specializes in making stained glass windows. She wants one window replaced which is a hideous version of saints and sinners entering Heaven and Hell. While visiting Julius Stagg to discuss making a new window, he deliberately shows her a magnificent chest that is part of a dowry. The remainder of the novel involves the disappearance of this chest after the death of a person found on Ursula’s property.

The core of this mystery concerns a plot by Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s sister, to cause war and Spanish intervention. The reader becomes amazed at how much Elizabeth relies on her spymaster’s teams to stymie or kill plots designed to dethrone her. Fiona Buckley is a master at eliciting fear and confusion in the characters and readers. The web of silk taking shape is indeed lethal! An irresistible and fascinating historical mystery.