Picking up where her last foray into the world of Elizabethan intrigue had left us, in A Clash of Spheres, P. F. Chisholm takes us on the hunt for the assassins who tried to murder King James I. Our courtier, Robert Carey, Elizabeth I’s Deputy Warden of the North, and Robert Cecil’s erstwhile spy, is tasked by James to bring his would-be-killer, Johnathan Hepburn, to justice. Justice by disposal, that is. There may be a warrant for the perpetrators arrest, but Carey is told in no uncertain terms, that the King does not want a trial and quite frankly, he wants the murderer dispatched. And so begins A Suspicion of Silver.
Honestly, Carey has no issue with the quest. Justice, you understand, was very different in Elizabethan times, and justice was very different at the English-Scottish border than even in London. Knowing how to run the wild west of the Scottish lowlands, was the only way Carey could actually do his job, and stay alive at the same time. Albeit his very practiced ability with a sword and dirk helps a little.
Meanwhile, as Carey is tasked with the failed regicide’s manhunt, his man-at-arms, Dodd, is bushwhacked from behind by a coward with a crossbow. Not knowing whether his sergeant was alive or dead Carey goes in search of his fellow traveler. But the moors are a strange place, and sometimes blood enemies keep even their most hated rival alive, simply because they hope to kill them themselves one day.
We continue to see the characters we grew to know in the previous book, Mr. Andricks shows up, as does Tovey the clerk, Dodd’s brother, and the widow Burns of all people. How they are intertwined with the unsuccessful killer is one of the more interesting subplots of this book. Nothing is ever as it seems. The author keep us guessing throughout the story.
And as with most historical fiction, the best part is what you can learn and take with you about the every day lives of the people that lived in this era. The author regales us with an in depth look at the nascent mining business in England. How it got started, who started it and why. How mining actually affected the people in the area, and even the possible environmental side effects that ruined the economy for some and created health problems for others.
Along the way, we grow connected to the people in these stories and feel what they feel, and understand their hopes, their dreams and their fears. Moreover, in the end, the role that mining, with all its scientific and mythical nuances found in the 16th century, actually plays in the attempted assassination of the King of Scotland is one reason that P.F. Chisholm is as good as it gets when looking for well written historical mysteries .
The book is available December 11, 2018.