Murder at Fountainbleau
Murder at Fontainebleau is the fifth installment of Carmack’s Elizabethan Mysteries. The novel opens just after the death of Kate Haywood’s father. Kate, a young noblewoman, is a courtier and sometime spy for Elizabeth I. In this novel, Kate is charged with figuring out the next move of Elizabeth’s rival, Mary Queen of Scots, and is sent to France as part of a diplomatic retinue. Kate struggles to learn the labyrinthine politics of the French court, who is an ally or enemy, and if there is a way she can really help her Queen with the task she was sent to do. When a member of her party is murdered, Kate has to find out if it is a case of jilted love or if Elizabeth’s enemies are making a step toward making a play on the English throne.
When I started reading Murder at Fontainebleau, I knew it was one of a series. It didn’t make a difference to my ability to follow the narrative. Carmack did a good job of providing enough history that not having read the previous books wasn’t a detriment to this one. I would like to read the other books so that I can get the history of all the characters, because they are intriguing and I quite liked Kate and her love interest, Rob Cartman. The history within the novel kept my interest as well. However, I was a solid three-quarters of the way through the book before the murder actually took place. After that, things moved very quickly and conveniently. There was a lot of lead-in and relatively little payoff. As a straightforward work of historical fiction, the novel did well enough, but for a mystery, it lacked a lot of actual, well, mystery.