Our recalcitrant near-do-well Jack Blackjack, is ordered by his patron to murder a Lady-in-Waiting to the Lady Elizabeth. A survivor of the rebellion against Queen Mary, Jack is only too happy to leave the confines, and dangers (in the guise of a very angry cuckolded husband) of London for the bucolic English countryside. Now Jack may be an assassin for hire, but he is also not a killer of women. How he is going to pull off his assignment is something of great frustration to him.
Fortunately for him when he gets to the Woodstock where Princess, now Lady Elizabeth, is being held by her sister Queen Mary, events take shape where his reluctance is no longer important. The murder of the lady in questions has occurred. He is innocent, but it does not mean he is not suspect. So begins the latest in the Tudor series set during the time of Bloody Mary, A Murder Too Soon by Michael Jecks.
Not only are we privileged to the political machinations so rife throughout the nation during this period of religious upheaval, but the readers learn what it takes to actually survive in such an unsure world. Murder, mayhem, competing Court factions, along with good old fashioned fisticuffs, swordfights, and an atmosphere replete with crosses and doubles crosses, create an enthralling mystery that keeps the reader guessing to the very end of the book.
Nothing and no one is as they seem. Loyalties are tested. Alliances are formed. Ambitious men seek to take advantage. Women try to protect those they love. Meanwhile, all this is occurring with the ever present fear of religious persecution, for Mary is a Catholic queen, of a Protestant country, married to the Spanish enemy.
Elizabeth’s situation is precarious. Her friends are few. But she is determined to survive. And Jack is plunked down right in the middle of this nonstop tornado. Ultimately, it is Court intrigue that reaches out to cause the dominoes at Woodstock to fall, revealing that the puppet masters are not whom they appear to be.