Her Highness’ First Murder
This mystery, set in 1546, features thirteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII, as a detective out to find a killer who is stalking young women and leaving their headless bodies in nun’s clothes. Are the murders somehow related to the death of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth’s mother? Is the killer motivated by the religious conflicts in Tudor England? When one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting is beheaded, the threat hits close to home, and there is the suggestion that Elizabeth herself is in danger. With the help of Simon, the young son of a village physician, and Hugh Bellows, a captain in the Welsh Guard—and an assist from her own sharp intelligence—Elizabeth searches for the killer. The novel builds to a suspenseful and satisfying conclusion.
It’s a bit of a reach to imagine the young princess taking matters into her own hands the way she does in this novel. But what I truly loved about the book—and what absolutely rings true—is the characterization of Elizabeth Tudor. She comes across as royal in manner yet touching vulnerable. Her father has killed her mother. Her stepmother, Katherine Howard, has also been beheaded. Her father recognizes her as more like him than either of his other children but can hardly bear to look at her because of the history between them. Despite this unpromising set of family circumstances, she digs deep and finds an extraordinary courage.