I picked this book right off a library shelf. I was the cover that caught my attention first, with a woman in an Elizabethan gown. Since historical fiction interests me a big deal it isn't any wonder that I picked this up. A quick glance at the blurb further piqued my curiosity.
To begin with, Grace Cavendish is not only the psuedonym for Jan Burchett and Sarah Vogler, it is also the name of the main character; Lady Grace Cavendish, a private spy appointed by Elizabeth I herself. To make it quite clear, this young lady spy is fictional, though the queen isn't! She is among the Queen's Maids of Honour, and is portrayed like a modern day tom-boy - a girl who enjoys mystery and intrigue. The authors, in their note to the readers at the end of the book state how the entire series is set in the years of 1569 and 1570. I gather that there are some twelve books in the series, and while one might wonder how there can be twelve mysteries in two years, it does strike me that the Court of Elizabeth I was indeed full of intrigue!...especially with a few people not happy with a woman as their sovereign ruler.
But I seem to have digressed! We get back to the Intrigue. A new play is in town by the same name - a murder mystery that is left to the audience to solve. Elizabeth I is eager to watch the play, so much so that she is too impatient to wait for the troup to come to the Court. Her whole entourage converges on an ordinary inn to watch the play and solve the mystery. But things get out of hand as a murder is committed in the Queen's presence and Grace finds that she has a real mystery on her hands. Grace takes us through a series of diary entries as she conjectures and procures evidence to solve the murder of Richard Fitzgrey, the actor.
I have always enjoyed reading mysteries; and as mysteries go, this is above average. I found that the writers had got their facts vastly right. I wasn't too sure about a few others. For instance, did tennis as a game, exist during Elizabeth I's reign? I thought that the Queen's character was down pat. None of the characters, though, struck a chord...but then, I guess, that is only natural in a mystery story.
I didn't at all like the format in which the story was written. I thought it would have worked better as a straight forward narrative (either in the first or third person) instead of as a journal. I guess this idea must be a rip off from The Princess Diaries, but as I have only ever seen the movies and not read the books of the latter it must only remain conjecture. As a journal the whole project was a flop. Lady Grace Cavendish sure did choose the oddest times and places to make her diary entries. Plus, of one really thinks about it, you wouldn't suspect her of being too caught up with her investigating if she could find so much time to write all about it as she went along! Also, I figured, as diary entries go it was rather contrived in portraying the setting of the story as one usually wouldn't go into certain 'unimportant' details if there is a major plot. I'm talking about strange instances when Grace would suddenly mention what she and all the Maids of Honour were wearing, and all their trivial woes in the midst of the telling of an intrigue!
So then, this wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but I would very much recommend it young readers who enjoy reading stories set in the Elizabethan period and like a decent mystery.