The Lopez Affair

Written by Ann Swinfen
Review by Viviane Crystal

In this 9th volume in the Chronicles of Christoval Alvarez, set in the late 1500s, Queen Elizabeth I reigns successfully in England. Many gain favored status, and lose it just as fast. Our story begins with Christoval Alvarez, a Marrano physician well-respected by the Queen, being asked to look into a murder case. The accused is Alvarez’s friend, a fellow physician at a hospital. All, of course, is not as it seems, and much of the chicanery and subterfuge happen because of the rival factions of Lord Burghley and the Earl of Essex – each separately trying to please the Queen. The rise of Lopez and his subsequent troubles are breathtaking and nerve-wracking, setting enemies to a new level of deceit, setting friends against one another. The prejudice against the Portuguese Jews (Marranos are Jews or Moslems converted to Christianity by threat of the Inquisition) surges anew, and heads and bodies begin to fall as accusations and sham trials follow.

Alvarez is a character one cannot help but highly respect: compassionate, practical, skilled and courageous. Ann Swinfen is a masterful storyteller who knows precisely when and how to increase tension and mystery, as well as concoct a fascinating and complex plot. Highly recommended historical fiction!