I have just finished reading a semi-historical yet fictional book entitled “To Shield the Queen”. The book is a mystery thriller based upon a historical event that took place in the royal court of Queen Elizabeth the 1st. Written by Fiona Buckley, the book was first published in paperback form in 1997 by Pocket Books, a division of Schuster Inc. Fiona Buckley, the author, is a British woman who by actual profession is a former technology journalist and industrial editor, seem to have a fascination for the royal history of Britain and poured countless research hours into ensuring that her novel will not only be based on historical accounts but also have a solid historical platform for all fictional accounts that she incorporated into the story.
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The main characters and the plot
The story introduces us to the main character of what was to become a series of novels from the author. Mistress Ursula Blanchard is a widow with one daughter who is making her way through her new life as a Lady of Presence in the Queen’s court. It was during this time in England that the then Queen Elizabeth the 1st, also known as the Virgin Queen, was embroiled in a highly scandalous rumor that she was having an affair with a married man in her court. This man was Sir Robin Dudley. Sir Robin was married to a woman he no longer loved named Amy Robsart Dudley. The queen, Sir Robin, and Lady Amy are all historical figures of British history and the story of the mystery surrounding the death of Lady Amy, although fictionalized for this novel, is an actual unsolved murder in the history of British crimes. Together with these main characters we also have a host of minor characters in the story such as Dale – Mistress Blanchard’s constantly complaining lady in waiting and Brockley, the mistress’ manservant. These 2 characters serve as Mistress Ursula’s assistants as she investigates the events surrounding the untimely death of Lady Amy and its possible connection to the Queen.
As an avid reader of murder mysteries, I find that this book is highly entertaining, informative, and historically accurate when it comes to the characters being used in the book. It is well written and explains its plotline and succeeding supporting storylines simply that even a reader who is not familiar with British history will be able to follow and understand. The main message of the book is quite clear. Rumors are bad. Rumors can poison a person’s thoughts and isolate them to the point that they deem themselves to be the living dead and that no amount of help can make a difference once a person has resigned himself to a fate of death. In all, I would recommend this book to any mystery thriller buff who wants to change his pace from a heavy mystery to a light-hearted and warm murder mystery.