Face Down upon an Herbal (Elizabethan Mysteries)

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9780312180928: Face Down upon an Herbal (Elizabethan Mysteries)

Having written the definitive book on poisons, Susanne knows she must find the link between her herbal and the man who was found dead reading it before it is too late.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A second adventure for Elizabethan herbalist Susanna, wife of Sir Robert Appleton, an emissary to Queen Elizabeth (Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie, 1989). While Sir Robert is on the Queen's business in Scotland (with a little dalliance on the side), Susanna, accompanied by young Catherine Denholm, her husband's unacknowledged half-sister, is sent to Madderly Castle in Gloucester. Ostensibly there to help Lady Eleanor Madderly with her herbal manuscript, Susanna learns of the recent killing of Lord Glenelyan obnoxious Scots visitor found in the library where Magdalen Harleigh oversees Lord Madderly's collection while her burly husband, Otto, serves as the Castle's Horse Master. Others in the household are schoolmaster John Wheelwright, tutor of the Lord's young sons; handsome Gilbert Russell, gentleman usher; and Lord Madderly's sister Beatrice, who looks on Susanna's presence with sour-faced disapproval. Before long Eleanor becomes a second murder victim and Russellincreasingly attractive to Catherineis revealed as Lord Glenely's heir. A visit from her husband and yet another killing slowly uncover the driving force behind the mayhem. Far-fetched incidents, fussily drawn characters, and stilted conversations keep the pace soporific and the suspense meager here; but herbal enthusiasts and fans of historical romances may find some mild entertainment. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Treason, conspiracy and political scheming in Elizabethan England form a complex and sinister background for Lady Susanna Appleton's latest foray into sleuthing. The self-assured and feisty herbalist and author of A Cautionary Herbal, who was last seen in Face Down in the Marrow-bone Pie (1997), is bid by the queen to visit Madderly Castle, ostensibly to help Lady Madderly complete her own book on herbs. But a series of murders at the castle puts that project on hold. Lord Glenelg, an arrogant and irritating houseguest, is stabbed with his own knife. Lady Madderly is bludgeoned with a silver candlestick, and her sister-in-law is strangled. Susanna summons her husband, Sir Robert, back from Scotland, where he was happily combining a serious errand for the queen with his own wenching and quaffing. Their joint detection efforts, though acrimonious, are productive. Is treason in the works? The story is wonderfully enhanced by herbal lore (decoctions, potions and balms) and a heated and forbidden romance: Susanna's impressionable young sister-in-law is smitten with someone entirely unsuitable. There is always someone lurking behind an arras or scuttling along a secret passage, and codes and ciphers play a key role. At times, the conspiracies seem unreasonably complex, but Lady Appleton's keen logic and insight prove bracing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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