Face down o’er the Border
n this 10th novel in the Face Down mystery series, Susanna Appleton, Elizabethan gentlewoman and sleuth, travels to Scotland to aid her friend, Catherine Glenelg, who is accused of murdering her mother-in-law. Catherine has lost her memory and can remember nothing of the incidents surrounding the death. She is persuaded by another friend, Annabel MacReynolds, to flee for her safety. However, Catherine will not leave Scotland without her son, who is living at the royal palace as one of the schoolfellows of the eleven-year-old King James; and Annabel is a notorious, though retired, spy who has a plan. As Lady Appleton investigates what appears to be a domestic incident, she finds herself caught up in the political intrigue surrounding the Scottish throne.
I had not read any of the previous novels, but the obviously well-developed characters and relationships soon eased me into the plot. The depth of historical detail was impressive, if at times a little obtrusive, but the mystery and the ongoing background story made for a satisfyingly complex narrative, and all of the suspects were sufficiently credible to leave me guessing for a good part of the novel. Historical mystery fans should find this a pleasurable read.