Murder at Whitehall

Written by Amanda Carmack
Review by James Hawking

Yuletide in 1559 gives Kate Hayward a chance to compose and play her music for Queen Elizabeth’s Twelve Days of Christmas celebration. In addition to being a musical genius, Kate is an accomplished code cracker, knife fighter and spy. All of these skills help her investigate the murder of a Spanish envoy. There is also an attempt to blackmail Elizabeth over her conduct with Thomas Seymour when she was living with her stepmother. Kate and her father had been serving as musicians in the same household at the time.

Solving the mysteries takes Kate to Cripplegate, a dangerous district of brothels and criminals, but she is determined to protect Elizabeth. In addition to being her queen, Elizabeth also happens to be her second cousin because Kate’s grandmother was the illegitimate half-sister of Anne Boleyn.

A cheerful feminism pervades the series as Kate succeeds in many male-dominated roles. Her busy life leaves little time for romance. She might be in love with an actor whom she sees rarely. A lawyer whom she sees less often definitely loves her. The mysteries are well-crafted with a mixture of meaningful clues and red herrings. It takes a while to get to work on solving them, what with all there is to do around Christmastime. Recommended.