A wrong-side-of-the-blanket cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, perspicaciously able, perennially broke, persistently in love with the married Lady Elizabeth Widdrington, Sir Robert is fresh off saving James the VI/I’s life from a double assassination attempt. With the whole-hearted if covert backing of Sir Robert Cecil he is now tasked by James to catch and kill the would-be assassin, a thoroughly creepy serial killer, and along the way if he can figure out how the the German silver miners in Keswick are stiffing the queen out of her share of the take, so much the better. It doesn’t help matters that his surly Sergeant, Henry Dodd, is missing and presumed dead.
Chisholm displays a masterful hand in drawing several plot lines from the previous novels to a resoundingly satisfying conclusion, and in setting a terrific hook on the last page. Mickey Spillane, who famously said “The last line sells the next book,” would have given her a standing ovation for this one. I have never loved Sir Robert more.