The Twilight Queen (A King’s Fool mystery, 2)

Written by Jeri Westerson
Review by Deborah Cay Wilding

In the Tudor court of King Henry VIII, secrets can be dangerous, even for the king’s favorite court jester, Will Somers, who finds himself drawn into a mystery that plunges Anne Bullen (Boleyn) into a world of serious peril. It’s 1536, and Queen Anne’s marriage to Henry is in big trouble—the king’s eye is wandering, she’s failed to deliver a male heir, her enemies are powerful—and if that isn’t bad enough, she discovers the dead body of a complete stranger in her chamber. Because Will solved a murder several years back and is particularly devoted to little Princess Elizabeth, Anne enlists him to dispose of the body and uncover the real killer. That is, if they all expect to escape without losing their heads, since it turns out that Will has a few secrets of his own.

Fans of the first book in The King’s Fool mystery series will be absolutely delighted by this entertaining take on the complicated life of jester detective, Will, as he moves through the Tudor court unseen, yet listening in and making fun of everyone. He’s married to his true love, Marion, but often winds up in bed with courtier Nicholas Pachett, and while the three of them sort out the boundaries of their relationship, they also begin piecing together evidence in a murderous royal frame-up. When clues first lead one way then another, suspects are questioned and ruled out. Or are they?

With an artful mix of historical details and fiction, author Westerson engages readers in a mystery of twists and turns, riddles, bawdy humor, and clandestine trysts, featuring a richly developed main character whose observations on court life had me laughing out loud by page three. A thoroughly enjoyable read with a final surprise.